Bed Bug Inspections – Canine vs. Visual


Well, add me to the long list of people who may have been taken in by a K9 inspection. 2 days ago, we had a dog come in after our 4 month old daughter was getting red welts for a week or so, and they spent all of 15 minutes looking around. The dog “hit” on 2 areas in our daughter’s room and our bed in our room but we have yet to find evidence and the inspectors didn’t have anything to show us. They kept saying that we were probably in the very early stages of an infestation and that these bugs are very small and are good at hiding. I understand these things, but that is precisely why I hired what I thought were professionals and specialists.

The whole things has left a bad taste in my mouth. We still don’t know whether we have bedbugs, our daughter hasn’t had any bites in about 4 or 5 days but I don’t know if that is just because the bugs are taking a break. My husband’s workplace won’t let him back to work until he has confirmation either way. So, while neither my husband nor I am getting bitten, we’re still losing sleep at the thought of our baby being feasted on by these bugs. And it’s a no-win situation: if we move her into our room, the bugs may migrate and she’ll still get bitten. I am also making a plea to “rat out” dishonest or underperforming K9 inspections. It is unconscionable for these companies to be making money off the legitimate fear and anguish of people who think they have bedbugs. I am angry, upset, and out $350.”

– A frustrated resident of NYC (posted on

bed-bug-beagleThe truth about canine scent detection and bed bugs is this: There’s a lot of people trying to cash-in on people’s fears about bed bugs. We’ve had a lot of experiences where dogs failed to alert where bed bugs are present. We’ve had experiences where dogs alerted, but no bed bugs were found. In other instances, the dogs alerted to carpet beetle larvae. We’ve had a significant number of consumers report to us that the dog handler refused to visually confirm for bed bugs after the dog alerted–a fact we find unconscionable.

If you must contract the services of a canine inspection vendor, you must insure:

  • the handler has been properly trained
  • the handler has no financial interest in the outcome of the inspection (preferably the dog handler is not in the pest control business)
  • the handler takes the time to verify where dogs alert
  • the dog(s) are reinforced—daily—for optimum K-9 performance
  • the dogs are certified by a reputable K-9 academy/organization– NOT by a pest control company

Like most everything else in the bed bug world, nothing is 100%, and it’s our opinion that the dogs are far from one-hundred percent. Published claims about the reliability of dogs have been greatly exaggerated. These claims are based on a clinical trial done by the University of Florida. This experiment was conducted under controlled circumstances and did not reflect real world conditions and variables. In our view and experience, the reliability of K-9 detection is highly variable.

We no longer recommend canine inspections because we’ve demonstrated human visual inspections render much more accurate and consistent results.

Visual Inspections

Visual inspections are an effective method to detect bed bugs, however in very low-level infestations it can be tedious and time consuming. Multiple inspections may be necessary to ultimately discover live bed bugs, eggs, feces, or exoskeletons. Anxious people may be impatient for answers. For these people the dogs or mechanical bed bug detection devices may make sense. For others who are less emotional and process the situation more rationally, we say this: Stay on high alert. Sleep on white (or light colored) bedding to make it easy to see fecal stains. Inspect your bedding each morning when you wake-up. Use a flashlight to examine cracks & crevices in & around the sleeping areas. Bed bugs are often found in crevices in the headboard, bed frame, box spring, seams of the mattress, and other crevices immediately around the bed. Make note of any lesions that appear on you or others in the home that could be bites. Look for exoskeletons of the bugs on the floor beneath beds, couches, and futons.  If there’s a bed bug problem in your home, evidence will turn up soon. These bugs do not stay hidden for extended periods of time. No one wakes-up to an infestation overnight. Do not let unscrupulous salespeople use fear to coerce you into buying products or services.

Once an active bed bug problem has been positively confirmed, treatment should begin as soon as possible. Do not treat your home for bed bugs without evidence of an active infestation. Do not treat your home with over-the-counter remedies, bug bombs, or cedar oils & sprays. Be discerning with your selection of pest control services. Not everyone is the bed bug expert they claim to be.