You’re ready to hit the road with your furry travel buddy, but should you worry about bed bugs on your dog or cat coming home with you? Not if you know the facts! Here’s what every pet traveler needs to know about bed bugs.


Bed Bugs Trending In The News

While bed bugs have not been in the news much lately, they are always a risk for travelers. Hotels are second only to private homes for being treated by pest professionals for bed bugs. And bed bugs move from place to place by hitching rides in your luggage or pet beds.

So, how do you ensure that your dog or cat doesn’t have bed bugs? Here are our best suggestions.

Before Booking A Pet Friendly Hotel Room

You’ve found a great hotel that welcomes your family pet for a reasonable fee in a lovely, pet friendly destination you can’t wait to explore. The last thing you want is to have your vacation ruined by bed bugs!

Luckily there is a website that collects complaints about bed bugs in hotels called the Bed Bug Registry. Look up the hotels you’re considering before making your reservations and see if there are any recent complaints of bed bugs.

Of course, a hotel with no recorded complaints is not necessarily free of bed bugs. So, after you check in, do you know what to look for?

READ MORE ⇒ Questions To Ask BEFORE Choosing A Pet Friendly Hotel

Brindle dog laying on a hotel bed holding a stuffed puppy

Signs Of Bed Bugs

First, look for the bugs themselves. They are easily visible to the naked eye—similar in shape and color to an apple seed.

Second, look for dark, reddish stains on bedding. These may be from bed bug infestation, bed bug feces, or crushed bed bugs.

Finally, are you seeing bed bug bites on yourself or your pets? Small red marks similar to a mosquito or flea bite might appear on your arms, legs, neck, or any part of your body exposed while sleeping.

Bed bug bites can be harder to see on your furry cat or dog. But if they start itching, bed bugs might be biting them, too.

bed bug

Looking For Bed Bugs In Your Hotel

When staying in a pet friendly hotel, check the mattress, the box spring, and your bags and luggage for bed bugs. Bed bugs tend to hide in mattress seams, so that’s a great place to look first.

Use the flashlight feature on your cell phone to light up dark corners in upholstered furniture or joints where the bed frame meets the headboard. And while sheets and pillowcases are regularly washed and dried at temperatures high enough to kill the bed bugs, comforters and furniture are not. So you’ll want to check them as well.

Some pet friendly hotels provide cushy dog beds as an amenity. Dog bed covers should be removed and washed by housekeeping between uses. But it doesn’t hurt to look your pet’s bed over carefully before allowing her to lie on it.

Note: beds with bolsters are really comfy. And they provide a great hiding space for bed bugs.

Hopefully, your inspection finds no telltale signs of bugs. But if it does…

looking for bed bugs around mattresses and bed frames

What To Do If You Find Bed Bugs In Your Hotel

Call the front desk immediately. The hotel needs to know about the problem so they can treat it.

Since bed bugs can travel through cracks in the walls or floor joints, you might decide to move your entire family to another hotel entirely. But the University of Kentucky Entomology Department suggests that moving to another wing in the same hotel is probably reasonable. You’ll have to decide which option is best for you.

And don’t forget to log your complaint on the Bed Bug Registry to help fellow pet travelers!

READ MORE ⇒ Pet Policies For All U.S. Hotel Chains

Grey and white cat sitting in a packed suitcase looking directly at the camera

It’s important to point out that bed bugs do not mean that a hotel is particularly dirty. Anyone, at any time or place can be plagued by these uninvited pests. They simply go wherever they can find a good meal.

By the way, you didn’t put your luggage on the bed, right? It’s better to keep your bags on the floor or a hard surface to avoid picking up any pesky hitchhikers.


How Big A Problem Are Bed Bugs For Pets?

Bed bugs are looking for food. Whether it is you or your pets does not matter. Humans are easy targets because they are not covered in fur. But pets can be bitten too – animals including dogs, cats, mice, birds, and rats.

And pets can’t tell you they’re uncomfortable. So it’s important to look for scratching or other signs of discomfort so you can help them.

dog sleeping on his bed

What To Do If You Find Bed Bugs On Your Pet

If you find bed bugs on your pet or in your pet’s bed, contact your veterinarian to find out what kind of shampoo you should use to relieve the itching. Unlike fleas, bed bugs are unlikely to nest in your pet’s fur. So you don’t need a product to kill them on your pet.

Your vet might also recommend a small dose of an antihistamine to relieve itching. Benadryl is a common over-the-counter medication believed to be safe for pets. But only give medicine to your pet with your vet’s guidance.

And keep in mind that a dog shampoo with chemicals to kill bugs (like pyrethroids) can be harmful if used on a cat.

To make you feel better, you could try to vacuum your pet’s fur if they’ll tolerate it.

Your pet will most likely be bitten at night, and bed bugs will hide during the day while they digest the blood. So, the most effective treatment will be to remove any bugs hiding in your pet’s bedding.

READ MORE ⇒ What You Should Know About Emergency Vets (Before You Need One)

Dog cuddling with stuffed toy on hotel bed

How To Kill Bed Bugs On Bedding

To kill bed bugs hiding in your pet’s bedding, toys and anything plush he comes in contact with, you’ll need to wash it. Look for telltale signs of the bugs, such as fecal stains that will not flake off and will smear if wiped with a damp cloth.

Killing With Heat

Bed bugs will die in heat of 120 degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius) if they are exposed for at least 20 minutes. The dryer is a good source of this heat. Items that can be laundered, like sheets, bedding, and toys can be placed in the dryer for 20 to 30 minutes.

Items that can’t be laundered, like luggage, can be wrapped in clear plastic and placed outside on a hot, sunny day or in your car parked in the sun.

Killing With Cold

Cold will also kill bed bugs, but you must maintain a temperature below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius) for several days. Some pest control services use steam or freezing followed by vacuuming. However, if the bugs hide deep in crevasses, they can be missed.

To make sure you kill all the bugs, put the infested items in plastic trash bags. Set them in your garage or on a porch during a deep freeze. Make sure you leave them there for several days. And check them carefully before bringing them back inside.


Other Concerns For Bed Bugs On Dogs and Cats

Most of the information about bed bugs concerns humans, but pet owners may have a few more questions about their cats and dogs.

Do Topical Flea And Tick Treatments Kill Bed Bugs?

I’m sorry, but flea shampoos and topical treatments have no effect on bed bugs. Some sources suggest lice treatments are effective in eradicating bed bugs. But once again, don’t use any product on your pet without confirming with your vet that it’s safe for them.

Can Dogs Catch Bed Bugs At The Dog Park?

Since bed bugs feed at night and hide during the day, it’s unlikely you’ll find bed bugs on dogs at the dog park. In rare cases, a bed bug could hide in a dog’s fur and fall onto another dog during play, but the risk is very slim.

If you’re concerned about your dog picking up bed bugs at the dog park, consider a private dog park where your pups can run off leash with no other dogs around.

READ MORE ⇒ Sniffspot Private Dog Parks: An Option For Traveling Dogs

Small dogs playing in a field at a pet boarding facility

Are Professional Pest Treatments Safe For Pets?

The answer is maybe. When scheduling pet treatments by an exterminator, make sure they know up front that you have pets and what kinds. They can tell you what preparations you must make to keep everyone safe, like covering bird cages or fish tanks, for example.

However, the best option is probably to remove your pets from the area entirely while the exterminator does his work.

Be aware that pest treatments using pyrethrins and pyrethroids (a natural compound made from chrysanthemum flowers) can be particularly dangerous to cats and fish. VCA Pet Hospitals warn that pyrethrin poisoning is fatal to cats. If you see any signs of illness after a bed bug treatment, contact your vet immediately.

kitten in blankets

Are Bed Bugs A Serious Issue For Travelers With Pets?

Are you totally creeped out now? Wondering if you should just stay home?

Of course not! The good news is that bed bugs, while an unappealing nuisance, don’t cause any major illnesses in humans or pets.

Your pet is far more likely to face complications from a tick bite while hiking.

But the work involved in getting rid of bed bugs once they follow you home is considerable. So it’s worth taking precautions to prevent getting bed bugs on your dog or cat.

A little knowledge will help you avoid these pesky, biting bugs. So don’t let an infestation of them stop your fun! Here’s hoping you never find bed bugs on your dogs or cats.

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  • I know for fact that bed bugs do live on dogs and cats. I’ve been fighting the nasty bugs for a long time. I wash and vacuum my furry kids 2-3 times a day. The bugs love my pugs face and eyes. There is definitely a lot of miss information concerning bed bugs. Not long ago I read where bed bugs are living on chickens. Please get the info right!

  • pet-friendly hotel/guest house is always preferred by me. Nevertheless, there are always chances of my partner dog being the carrier of the bugs, thus as a precaution, I always take for his shower and proper treatment before entering back home.