Monday, June 18, 2012

Pets Can Transport Bed Bugs (and Other Critters)

Parasites and creepy crawlers are right up my alley as while in graduate school my areas of concentrations were parasitology, immunology and medical entomology (the study of bugs of medical significance). So this is a topic that is close to my heart and one that needs addressing.

I hate to gross everyone out, this being vacation season and all. but forewarned is forearmed. We all know that bed bugs are a real problem in hotel/motel rooms, but it can also be a problem for your pet as well as the following article explains. In addition, when you stay in a "pet friendly" hotel/motel the cleaning of the rooms may not be adequate enough so you pet can be exposed to a wide range of parasites or disease organisms that had been brought in by the previous animal guests. Make sure your pets are up to date with all their vaccinations and are on their preventative medications. The heartworm preventatives (depending upon which one you use), in addition to protecting against heartworm disease also prevent roundworms, hookworms and in some cases, whipworms. To be certain about which parasites it does protect your pet against check the manufacturer's information or speak with your veterinarian. In addition, due to the heightened risk that fleas may be in these rooms it is imperative that your dog be on a flea/tick preventative medication as well. If you do not normally use flea preventatives, it might be worthwhile to use an application before you bring your pet on vacation with you. Check with your veterinarian and follow their recommendations.

Bed bugs, pets, and travel

Critters will hitch a ride with your furry friend

Updated: Friday, 15 Jun 2012, 6:41 PM EDT
Published : Friday, 15 Jun 2012, 6:41 PM EDT
(WPRI) - More people are taking their pets with them when they travel. And hotels are often happy to cater to visiting pets. One problem: bed bugs love it when pets visit too.

Charlotte Reed is an expert at traveling with her dog, but does worry about exposing the pooch to the bugs: "My dog sleeps in the bed with me. So, just like I'm exposed to bed bugs at night in the bed, so is she."

Recent surveys have found 67% of pest management companies have treated bed bugs in hotel rooms. Jeffrey White, a research entomologist with BedBug Central, a web site devoted to researching and providing expert information on the critters, says all pets are fair game.

Vet Kimberly May of the American Veterinary Medical Center agrees: "Pets can transport bed bugs. Just mechanically, the bed bug hitches a ride on your pet and gets into your house."

And don't forget your pet's bedding, she says: "You also need to check their soft toys, because there could be bed bugs in there."

Check-in, then check room

The experts say when you arrive at the hotel room, thoroughly inspect it for bugs before bringing Rover or Princess through the door. You can see the bugs easily; they're visible to the naked eye.

"One of the most common areas that you want to inspect when you stay in a hotel room is either the headboard, where bed bugs will typically hide, or the bottom of the box-spring," says White.

Consider leaving your pet's bedding and carrier in the bathroom, where there will be less chance of bugs.

Try treating the carrier with a pet safe bed bug repellent spray. "I always spray the carrier prior to leaving my house," says Charlotte.

Finally, when you get home, take further precautions with the bedding or blankets. "Immediately launder it in the hottest water that you can," says May. "If there are any rips or holes in it, you want to discard it."

The good news, of course -- bed bugs aren't known to carry disease, unlike fleas and ticks. The bed bug bites are merely irritating and itchy to both pets and people.

The experts also say it can't hurt to use flea and tick spray to help keep your pets bed-bug free -- but, there's no research to prove that this method is entirely effective.
Copyright WPRI 12


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