Bed bugs are those creepy crawly things that cause more hysteria than they do health problems. Bed bug treatment centers are now using dogs to sniff them out. Dogs are perfect because the bed bugs are small and like to hide in dark places rather than nest. They are the size of an apple seed, about a quarter of an inch long and an eighth of an inch wide. They are translucent when born and darken along the way to maturity. Bed bugs like to hide close to their prey and attack before dawn while their victims are asleep. Bed bugs can be found hiding almost anywhere but they are usually within five feet of their sleeping victim.

Bed bugs have an odor about them but can only be detected by humans if the bed bug population is huge. The smell has been called sweet, rotten raspberries and almonds. Some reports state bed bugs smell like a coriander-cilantro mix with a tad of citronella thrown in for good measure. A room with a musty odor could indicate a load of bed bug fecal matter is present. 

There are dogs specially trained to identify the presence of bed bugs by smell. The smell involved in the average bed bug infestation is usually at a level only a specially trained dog can detect. A sniffer dog sense of smell is 2000 times more sensitive than humans. Dogs can smell things that have been left for as long as ten years. With increased focus on green pest management, bed bug sniffing dogs are gaining popularity. Locating exactly where bed bugs are will minimize the areas that need to be sprayed to combat bed bug infestations. Dogs smell in parts per trillion, something humans cannot do. Ed bug sniffing dogs can detect bed bugs through all life cycle phases from eggs to nymphs to adults. As of mid 2009, there were over 100 bed bug sniffing dogs working in the United States. The need for such trained dogs is increasing as they are widely used to detect bed bugs in theaters, hotels, colleges and by property management companies. The reliability of the dogs has been impressive, if properly trained. Dogs trained for sniffing out bed bugs are typically small and agile and able to find the pesky critters in areas where humans cannot.

The Florida Canine Academy is one of the companies that train dogs to sniff out bed bugs. Before being released to a pest control company, the dogs undergo 600 to 800 hours of training by a certified master trainer. They also work with the handlers that will guide the dogs through a room. Once on the job, the dogs undergo testing everyday to keep their sniffing skills sharp. The dogs are taught to be quiet during a search and not bark upon finding their prey. The dogs also undergo physical fitness training, at least an hour a day, to keep up with the demands bed bug sniffing can bring. The sniff dogs also undergo a hygiene program. The dogs are bathed, combed and have their teeth brushed daily as plaque ridden teeth can diminish a dogs effectiveness when sniffing out bed bugs.

The environmentally conscience property owner may want to seek out a pest control management company that employs sniffing dogs as a means of locating bed bugs. They can locate bed bugs in a fraction of the time a human can locate them and they are 90 to 99% accurate.

Bed Bugs and Dogs: Protecting Your Home and Your Pet:

Claire, from Columbus Ohio, wrote to our Bed Bug Expert with a question:

“We have a bed bug infestation that won’t seem to go away. We’ve had an exterminator out twice already, and within weeks or months we’re getting bitten again. I looked online and read about pets possibly being a problem – could our dogs be what keeps the bed bugs coming back?”

The Bed Bug Expert writes:

“Claire – it certainly could be your pets. Bed bugs aren’t picky when it comes to meal time, and if there aren’t people to feed from, they’ll bite your pets instead. Bed bugs can easily infest pet bedding and places where your dogs like to sleep – including your couch – and many homeowners never even realize because they just assume it’s fleas making your pets itch and scratch.”

“When you have a bed bug infestation, you need to treat every inch of your pet’s bedding and living space as well as your own. Wash their sheets in hot water, then tumble-dry them on MAX to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Then use our bed bug killer spray on bedding, cushions and every area your dogs go into. Don’t worry – our bed bug killing products are 100% organic and use natural, food-grade ingredients, so you won’t be harming your pet.”

“The key to eliminating bed bugs once and for all is thoroughness. You need to treat every item that can harbor bed bugs at the same time; to wipe the slate clean and kill an infestation dead. This is why treating pets like family members means washing their sheets and bathing them like you do your kids.”

Well, Claire – we hope this advice helps. Since you’ve already had a professional exterminator strike out twice, we recommend following the Bed Bug Expert’s advice and try to tackle any future infestations on your own; using our natural and organic pesticides.

While the Bed Bug Expert is right that they’re totally safe for your pets, the food-grade ingredients trigger a reaction in bed bug physiology that literally suffocates them within minutes – helping stop an infestation in its tracks.