(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 Association 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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