Bed bugs can strike almost anyone

December 26, 2013
by Trisha Gedon

STILLWATER – They may be associated with dirt and filth, but bed bugs do not show any type of discrimination.

Bed bugs have been found in the nicest homes and the fanciest hotels. In fact, they will set up home anywhere there are food sources, and those food sources are humans and pets.

Dr. Elisabeth Giedt, director of Continuing Education, Extension and Community Engagement at the Center for Veterinary Health Sciences at Oklahoma State University, said bed bugs can be found just about anywhere.

“As you travel during the holiday season and other times during the year, always be on the lookout for these pesky creatures,” Giedt said.

“Keep in mind bed bugs don’t live on people or pets. They live in the environment and feed on you and your pets. Although they’re annoying and their bites can cause itching and skin irritation, they aren’t known to transmit diseases.”

While bed bugs do not spend as much time on your pets as fleas, ticks, lice and mites, they still bite your pets. And your pet can serve as a “taxi” and bring them into your home. From there the pesky creatures can find their way to your pet’s bedding, as well as your own.

Look for signs of bed bugs along mattress seams, along baseboards, seams of clothing, behind bedframes, in curtains and your pet’s bedding.

Giedt said if you find yourself in the midst of a bed bug infestation, contact a professional pest management service to help you develop a plan to get the bed bugs out of your home.

“As far as your pet is concerned, you won’t have to throw out Rover’s bedding or stuffed toys. Launder the animal’s bedding in the hottest temperature setting, preferably at a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit,” she said. “Set the dryer on the medium/high or high setting. If the materials can’t be washed, but can be put in the dryer, put them in the dryer on medium to high heat for about 20 minutes. If the pet’s bedding has holes or tears, consider getting rid of it and replacing it with something new.”

When looking for a bed bug preventive, such as what you use for fleas and ticks, make sure the label indicates it is intended for bed bugs.

If bed bugs are not listed, the product may not be effective. Using the wrong pesticide, or using it incorrectly to treat for bed bugs, can make you and your pet sick.

“Bed bugs can be difficult to eradicate, so it’s important to work with a professional. It’s likely the treatment plan will include more than one visit,” Giedt said. “Bed bugs are tough critters, but if you stay diligent you can get them out of your home.”