can dogs smell bed bugs

December 3, 2021

Bed bugs are an invasive pest that can infest nearly every corner of your home. Despite their name, they tend to gather anywhere that is warm, including closets, rugs, furniture, or an outlet switch.

Thankfully, pest experts know what it takes to eradicate the irritating pests. With the help of detection dogs, pest control professionals can locate the infestation early and begin treatment as soon as possible.

The History of Bed Bug Sniffing Dogs

It is a well-known fact that dogs have a keen sense of smell. The average canine has over 300 million receptors in its nose. Compared to the 30 million receptors that people have, it is no surprise why our furry friends have incredible scent detection capabilities.

For years, dogs were trained to sniff out explosives, narcotics, and even missing people. Their unique and highly accurate sense of smell could help people find things that otherwise would remain lost. Eventually, in the 1970s, canine scent detection was introduced to the pest control industry for finding termites.

Bed bugs were an extremely minor problem during this time as many households used excessive pesticides that would instantly kill bed bugs. However, in the early 2000s, a new breed of bed bugs nearly impervious to pesticides arose and began infesting homes across the United States, especially in heavily populated areas like New York City. With resistance to the typical treatment, bed bug infestations catapulted throughout the country.

As this new strain of bed bugs arose, pest control professionals needed a unique and effective way to eradicate the swarming pests. The first-bed bug-sniffing dogs were introduced to the industry during this time to locate the live bugs and eggs. With proper training, bed bug dogs eventually became a popular inspection technique for households across America.

These training scent dogs can now detect bed bugs in nearly any area of your home. From the sheets on the bed to the stuffed animals in the corner, a properly trained bed bug dog can offer early detection and peace of mind.

The Study to Detect Bed Bugs

The Oxford Journal published a study in 2008 showing the results of bedbug sniffing dogs in a controlled environment. The main objective of this study was to prove that the canine could not only locate an infestation but differentiate between bed bugs and other household pests.

During this study, researchers placed live bed bugs and viable eggs into polyvinyl chloride containers with a series of air holes. Upon the trial of bed bug detection, the training methods proved efficient as the dogs could not only locate the bed bugs but differentiate them from a termite species known as the German cockroach with a 97.5% accuracy rate.

During the next part of the test, researchers used living adult bed bugs and dead bed bugs. With another successful finding, the training dogs could differentiate between the bugs and the dead bugs and feces with a 95 % accuracy rate.

What Are the Advantages of Canine Bed Bug Inspections?

  1. Minimally-invasive: Unlike a visual inspection, a bed bug detection dog does not need to flip mattresses or move furniture to locate a bed bug problem. With their fantastic sense of smell, they can find the nesting area by analyzing scents and alerting the trained exterminator.
  2. Accurate results: A well-trained dog can find a bed bug or an infestation of pests. Since bed bugs tend to gather in warm places, a pest control professional will train their dog to find bed bugs in places like the bed, carpet, and other areas in your home that contain heat. Their impressive scent detection capabilities allow them to smell things in every corner of the house and locate the pests.
  3. Early detection: Bed bugs are known to hide in tight crevices that make it challenging to find visual evidence of an infestation. Well-trained dogs can find pests in any of their life stages, including the eggs. Locating the problems as early as possible is the best way to eradicate them with minimal bite marks and irritation.

How Do Pest Control Companies Use Canine Scent Detection?

Although most dogs have impressive smelling capabilities, they must have the proper training and certifications to accurately find bed bugs. Also, a dog with a dry or crusty nose won’t be able to perform bug detection accurately. Typically, a detection dog and its handler must hold a certificate from the National Pest Management Association or the National Entomology Scent Detection Canine Association, also known as NESDCA. Whether the dogs are trained for narcotics or pests, the NESDCA is the only facility with the proper accreditation.

The dog will inspect the entire building or household during a canine inspection to look for bed bugs. Once they find something, the dog alerts the handler to notify them of the infestation location.

In some cases, a handler will use a second dog or second canine team to locate the infestation. With impressive accuracy rates, the bed bug dogs prove more effective than the human eye alone.

bed bug drawing

Why Is It Important to Get Rid of Bed Bugs?

Bed bugs feed on human blood. This not only leads to bug bites but can cause constant irritation for you and your family. Bed bugs rely on humans and warm atmospheres to stay alive. Since they breed at exponential rates, they can be challenging to eradicate.

The best way to eliminate a bed bug infestation is to locate them as soon as possible. Unlike other detection methods, bed bug dogs can identify the pests during the earliest stages of infestation. Finding them early not only gives you peace of mind but can help you prevent further issues.

Prepare for a Canine Inspection

  1. Declutter your house: To prepare for a canine inspection, ensure enough room for the dog to sniff around.
  2. Put away distracting scents: Food, cigarettes, and other scents can distract the trained canine and lead to false alerts.

Need a pest inspection in New York City? Call Discreet Bed Bug Inspections at (917) 337-3202 to get started.

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