Bed bugs are an ever-growing problem, and they don’t discriminate when it comes to human or pet hosts. These bloodsucking parasites can hitch a ride from place to place on your pet, luggage, or clothing, so it’s important to protect your furry friends—and yourself—from these pesky pests. Here’s what you need to know about bed bugs when traveling with your pets.

Bed Bug Basics

First things first, let’s cover some basic information about bed bugs. Bed bugs are tiny insects that feed off human blood. They can be found in furniture, carpets, mattresses, and other fabrics. Unfortunately, bedbugs are becoming increasingly common in hotels and other places of lodging—especially those located in densely populated cities or tourist hotspots. That’s why it’s so important to take precautions when traveling with your pets.

Spotting Bed Bugs

Adult bed bugs are usually reddish-brown in color, are small—about the size of an apple seed—have oval-shaped bodies, six legs and two antennae that they use for movement and sensing their environment. They typically hide in small crevices such as mattress seams, box springs, bed frames, furniture joints, cracks in walls or floorboards, carpets, luggage, and clothing and even electrical outlets. Bed bug eggs are even smaller than adults—about the size of a grain of salt—and can be white or translucent in color. In addition to these physical characteristics, you may also notice dark stains on your bedding or other fabrics caused by their droppings.

Where Do Bed Bugs Come From?

Before we dive into how to keep these pests away, let's first understand what they are and where they come from. Bed bugs are parasites that feed on blood; they bite their hosts while they sleep and can leave behind red, itchy welts. In general, bed bugs prefer warm climates and can travel easily through air ducts or holes in walls. While bed bugs are often associated with dirty hotels, they can actually be found anywhere humans spend time—including airports, trains, buses and other public places. Unfortunately, once these tiny insects find their way into your bags or onto your clothing, they can quickly spread throughout your home. Always shampoo your pet before your trips with ARI Probiotic Flea & Tick Shampoo or ARI Probiotic Shampoo for Sensitive Skin containing lavender and eucalyptus to help deter these pesky bed bugs! Take the ARI Probiotic Anti-Itch Spray with you while traveling to spray your dog’s collar for added protection and to kill any eggs. This Anti-Itch spray is also good for spraying your suitcases to prevent hitchhikers from coming home with you! 

Inspect the Hotel Room

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your pet from bed bugs is to inspect them before settling into a hotel room. Start by inspecting the bedding for dark spots or tiny rust-colored stains—these are signs of bed bug activity. You should also check behind headboards and around other furniture in the room; any cracks or crevices could provide potential hiding spots for these pests. Once you have finished checking the room, it’s time to look out for any live bugs that may be hiding in plain sight. Look carefully along seams and around buttons on mattresses and furniture. If you notice any signs of an infestation, it’s best to find another place to stay for the night. It’s also important to thoroughly inspect your pet for any signs of a bite before leaving the hotel room each morning; if you do see any suspicious bites or marks on their skin, take them to the vet as soon as possible for treatment.

What to Do If You Bring Home Bed Bugs

If you think you may have brought home some unwelcome stowaways with you after a trip away with your pet, there are simple steps you can take to get rid of them quickly and effectively. Simply place anything that may have come in contact with bed bugs or their eggs in a giant plastic bag and remove as much air as possible and let it set for a while to suffocate them. By laundering all fabrics (including curtains) at the highest temperature setting allowed by the manufacturer; this should kill any live bugs that are clinging onto clothing or blankets. Vacuum upholstery and carpets thoroughly and discard vacuum bags immediately after use; steam cleaning is also useful for killing bedbugs on contact. Finally, call an exterminator if necessary; they can use chemical treatments (such as insecticides) that will target bedbugs hiding in hard-to-reach places such as electronic equipment or furniture joints.

No one wants to bring uninvited guests home with them after a vacation! Taking extra precautions when traveling with pets can go a long way in preventing an infestation of bed bugs from coming along for the ride. Shampoo your pet before your trips with ARI Probiotic Flea & Tick Shampoo to help repel any potential hitchhikers.  By regularly inspecting for signs of an infestation and keeping bags off the ground at all times during travels, you can greatly reduce the risk of bringing these intruders home with you! Additionally, always make sure to wash any fabric items that were exposed to potential areas of contamination immediately upon returning home. Don’t forget to give that precious pooch a good shampoo too—your peace of mind (and your pet’s!) will thank you later!

January 25, 2023 — Tamara Slaughter-Cerven