How to prevent bedbugs: What dogs and their parents must know

Sniff sniff sniff. Those are the three sounds a particular predator fears most. Pasha packs a double barred nasal weapon in pursuit of pests that wreak silent but nasty havoc on unsuspecting vacationers. The predator is the bedbug and Pasha is one of many bedbug finding dogs leading the pack in identification and elimination of these wingless insects of the night.

Though the topic can give some the ‘heebie jeebies,’ knowing what to look for and how to identify an infestation can save travelers a lot of time, money, grief and even bites. “There are misconceptions out there about bedbugs. Clutter management is pivotal. Clutter invites bedbugs,” said Susan C. Jones, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Entomology, Ohio State University. “When traveling, I don’t ask if there is a bedbug problem, I check.” And check she does. Professor Jones shared a “how to do a bedbug inspection” checklist for dog parents and travelers. (See below)

“If signs of bedbugs are evident, do not stay in that room. Report this to the hotel staff. Do not have contact with the infested unit. When changing rooms, do not take a room above, below or to either side of the infected one. Bedbugs migrate in certain patterns,” said Professor Jones.

In the event of a bedbug infestation, canines to the rescue. Dick Horton, Sales and Operations Manager for Bed Bug Finders, LLC works directly with bedbug finding canines, 3 to be exact. “These dogs are trained exclusively to find bedbugs. We work with them daily to keep this skill intact. They are trained in a similar way to bomb sniffing dogs,” he said. When the dogs find a problem, they become rigid and sit down. Accuracy rates are reported as 96% whereas some pest control services report 30%. Clearly the dog’s nose knows.

“We have 2 beagles and a Jack Russell. We practice daily with vials of bedbugs. All 3 dogs are trained exclusively to find them,” Horton continued, “It is an old wives’ tale that bedbugs are found in dirty hotels. We get calls from 5-star hotels as well as office buildings.” For example, in New York City, an international travel town, reports keep Horton and his company busy. “Our dogs work for food. They will find bedbugs within 3 to 4 feet of their scent. We tell travelers to do a visual inspection upon arrival and to report any findings immediately to hotel staff.”

More specifically, there has been an increase in the outbreak of bedbugs throughout North America, parts of western Europe and Australia. Over 9200 complaints of bedbugs were filed with the New York City Department of Public Health in 2008. Bedbugs may pose a risk and people aren’t even aware of it. Small red track marks with a local swelling on the skin after waking is a general indication of a bedbug bites.

Diligence, prevention, and reporting are all keys to fighting this problem. Bedbugs beware: there’s a new sheriff in town and they hunt on fours.

How Not to Bring Bedbugs Home

  • Bring rubbing alcohol on vacation. Bedbugs do not like it. Apply a light coating to a rag and apply to suitcases upon arrival
  • Don’t put luggage on the bed or in drawers, as bedbugs hide in dark places.
  • Launder dirty laundry immediately upon returning home and keep it in zip-lock type bags in the hotel room. Bedbugs won’t be able to get into the clothing and be transported home.
  • Never use bug bombs; They kill the bedbugs out in the open but most of them tend to hide.
  • Boric acid has no effect on bedbugs. In the event you have a home problem, boric acid won’t affect them.



  1. I had never thought about bed bugs as an issue that would affect my dog, but you’re absolutely right that it sure can be. It’s pretty awesome that dogs are the ones who are able to sniff out the bed bugs and help get rid of them. That’s a completely different dog career than I ever thought about. Want to make money with your dog? Teach them to sniff out bed bugs!

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