If you pay attention to the news then you are probably aware that there is a bed bug epidemic sweeping New York City (and spreading). The reappearance of these household pests en masse has been attributed to Americans traveling to infested countries and bringing the little buggers back in their luggage. But the spread is due largely to the fact that few people recognize these ectoparasites, and even if they do, they haven’t the faintest idea how to get rid of them. It is no easy task as bed bugs have a tendency to get into bedding, carpeting, and even your clothes and then migrate all over the house. And unfortunately, they also see your beloved pets as a meal ticket and mode of transportation.
This is going to be a pain in the neck for your dog (literally), because he will quickly become a moveable feast. And bed bug bites can be both itchy and painful. But it is also bad news for you. Even if you toss your mattress and linens and tent the house, the problem will manifest again in short order if you fail to kill every last bed bug, including the ones that may be traveling around in your dog’s coat. Luckily, there are several ways to treat bed bugs on your pets.
The first and best ways is to kill them in the environment. Since bed bugs tend to come out at night to feed and then retreat to a hiding spot during the day, it is somewhat rare to actually find them living on your dog. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t possible for these parasites to take up residence in your best friend’s furry coat. So once you’ve got a massive cleaning effort in the works within your home, it’s time to address the possibility that Fido could be playing host to one or more bed bugs.
While steam is a good way to kill these bugs in your mattress or carpeting, it may not necessarily work on your pet (you don’t want to damage him in the process). In the ‘70s many people used DEET and other pesticides and insecticides to try to kill bed bugs, as well, but again, you may not feel comfortable trying this tack with your pet since these chemicals tend to be equally harmful to all living beings.
In truth, your best bet is really to simply clean or toss your pet’s bedding and any plush toys where bed bugs could nest. Ridding the environment of bedbugs is essential since that is where they really live. If you happen to find one on your dog, you can use rubbing alcohol to kill it without harming your pet. And if you’d like to avoid chemical treatments there are a number of organic bio-pesticides on the market that you can use (in the form of bed bug powder or spray that is safe for pets). But as long as you can get the critters out of your home, your dog will be safe from their uncomfortable feeding habits.
Want an online course which walks you through what to do in an emergency with your pet? Then take a look at Dr Katherine van Ekert Onay’s guide to ‘First Aid for Your Pets‘.