The Korea Herald

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Concerns over bedbugs rise among pet owners

By Cho Min-jeong

Published : Dec. 2, 2023 - 16:01

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(Cho Min-jeong/The Korea Herald) (Cho Min-jeong/The Korea Herald)

Concerns over bedbugs are rising among pet owners in Korea following the recent string of reports of the pest spreading here.

"I usually enjoy camping with my dog, but lately, with news of bedbugs being found everywhere, I'm refraining from outdoor activities," said Kim, an office worker in his 30s. He expressed concerns about camping with his dog, fearing bedbugs might transfer in such environments.

Online forums also reflect pet owners seeking advice on the likelihood of bedbug bites, preventive measures, and how to handle situations if their pets get bitten.

Even cat owners have become more meticulous about checking their cats for bedbugs. Lee expressed her concern, saying, "I always check my outerwear before entering the house now. I've become more meticulous in examining my cat's body, and if I see anything on it, I react sensitively."

Experts acknowledge that while the chances of pets getting bitten by bedbugs are lower than for humans, appropriate prevention measures are crucial.

"Pets with dense fur make it challenging for bedbugs to feed, but (owners) should check vulnerable areas without fur, such as the belly," explained Yang Yeong-cheol, a professor at Eulji University's Department of Health, Environment and Safety.

Moreover, he emphasized that during walks the probability of pets getting bedbugs is close to zero, since bedbugs primarily inhabit indoor spaces.

(Cho Min-jeong/The Korea Herald) (Cho Min-jeong/The Korea Herald)

Professor Shin Sung-sik from Chonnam National University's College of Veterinary Medicine explained that bedbugs occasionally attack animals, emphasizing the need for preventive measures.

However, he warned against directly applying bedbug repellents on pets. "Bedbugs spend most of their time in their habitat. Applying insecticides on bedbug habitats rather than directly on pets is recommended. Pet bedbug repellents on the market lack precise efficacy information due to a lack of clinical trials for bedbug-borne diseases."

Severe itching could be a sign in case a pet is bitten, as their fur may conceal wounds, and prompt veterinary consultation is advised.