The Truth About Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

MYTH: A bed bug–sniffing dog is the best way to identify an infestation.

By Haniya Rae

Truth: There are reputable handlers with well-trained bed bug–sniffing dogs and there are scammers with untrained dogs. There are also legit bug-sniffing dogs that occasionally make mistakes. “What I always say is, don’t just trust the dog,” explains Mike Potter, an entomologist and extension professor at the University of Kentucky. “Confirm with a visible [human] inspection.”

Dogs and handlers should have proper accreditation and verifiable training through respected organizations such as the Forensic and Scientific Training Investigations Center, the World Detector Dog Organization, and the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association.

As for spotting signs of bed bugs yourself, Potter says if you suspect there’s a problem, there are a couple of things to look for on your sheets: tiny hard brown dots about the size of a pen tip (bed-bug excrement) and small blood spots where you might have smashed a bed bug while rolling over. Potter says you might also also see white eggs the size of sesame seeds in small clumps in or around furniture.

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