Bed Bug Chemicals May Harm Pets

The recent rise in cases of bed bugs has led to fears that chemicals used to kill them may be harming our pets.

There are now more cases of bed bugs reported in the United States than at any time since World War II, with at least five states being prompted to contact the Department of Defense to ask for money to eradicate them. Bed bugs encompass a family of insects that feed exclusively on the blood of warm-blooded animals, and their preferred habitat is wherever people or animals sleep – where they can feed unnoticed by their hosts.

Completely exterminating bed bugs from a home can cost many thousands of dollars, and most over-the-counter (OTC) products on the market are pesticides. This has prompted the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) to warn of the dangers of some kinds of OTC products to pets. Dr Tina Wismer, the ASPCA’s Senior Director of Veterinary Outreach and Education, says that pet owners should look for products that contain pyrethrin as their active ingredient. Last year, the ASPCA’s Animal Poison Control Center received nearly 30,000 calls related to insecticide poisoning.

"Perhaps the biggest danger pets could face from bedbugs is the use of pesticides to exterminate them. However, the chemical pyrethrin, which is often used in eradicating bedbugs, can be safe if used correctly around pets. Pet owners should discuss safety precautions with their exterminator or even with their vet before beginning the treatment process," said Dr. Wismer.

The ASPCA suggests contacting a professional exterminator to eliminate bedbugs from the home. For those who decide to treat their homes themselves, the ASPCA strongly recommends precisely following all directions and precautions outlined on the pesticide product’s label. Typically this involves keeping pets out of the treated area until the insecticide product is dry and the area is well ventilated.

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EPN