Dog in middle of street during fall

Bed Bug Detection Dogs: What You Should Know

Dogs have been used throughout history for detection purposes in a wide variety of fields. They have been tremendous additions to the military and police force and are now making their mark in the pest industry. They have already been used for mold and termites, are placing their candid sniffing abilities in the bed bug world.

Along with visual inspections, and monitoring equipment, many bed bug extermination companies are offering canine scent detection. While we, as Bed Bug BBQ, are advocates for canine scent detection, it also has its limitations. If you are leaning toward a bed bug canine scent detection company, there are a few items to consider.

Detection Percentage

To ensure you are hiring a high-quality bed bug detection dog, ask the company what their false-positive percentage is. A false-positive detection is when a dog alerts that they are a presence of bed bugs, but there wasn’t any. While the use of canine detection is a promising method of bed bug detection, it is an ever evolving method of detection.


A well-trained bed bug detection dog has the capability to detect a small number of bed bugs, even as low as one bed bug! But what differentiates a strong bed bug detection dog and another is its ability to distinguish between live eggs and bugs and evidence of a previous infestation. Evidence of a past bed bug infestation include empty shells, feces, and empty egg casings. Although these items are evidence of a current infestation, it is important for bed bug dog to be able to find a live hidden bed bug to prove the presence of an infestation. On this note, it is important to let your bed bug professional know if you had a previous infestation of bed bugs so they are able to distinguish between the new and old evidence.


Some bed bug detection dogs are cross trained to detect multiple items. If a canine has worked in previous industries, such as mold, then trained to detect bed bugs, they are considered “cross-trained”. This could lead to the canine finding mold instead of bed bugs (which could be a bang for your buck), but this could also lead to false-positives, making the inspection process longer than it needs to be.


Canines that are considered scent dogs depend on their noses, so their bed bug inspection is bounded by what they can smell. In some cases, the presentation of bed bug odor is not present to the dog. The reason for this is larger dependent on the location of the bugs, temperature, and air flow.

For example, if the bed bugs are located in an area where it is above the dogs head or they are unable to reach, they may not alert to the presence of the bed bugs. But, there are many cases in which the dog is able to pick up bed bugs where a bed bug exterminator may not. In an instance where bed bugs are hidden in an electrical outlet or behind a baseboard, the bed bug detection dog will alert, and the inspector can investigate further.


When a detection dog alerts, the bed bug exterminator or inspector can either rely on the dogs ability or confirm the presence of live bed bugs by using visual monitoring. Because a bed bug detection dog is able to smell beyond areas that we may not see, sometimes it can involve an extra step. This may or may not include removing an outlet cover, going through a pile of clothes, or moving furniture. This can obviously lead to more time, which cost more money. And if it is a false-positive or impossible to see without doing serious property damage, it can lead to it being a waste of time. It is also important to consider that if they did alert, you don’t see it, call it a false-positive when it really wasn’t, an inspector can make an incorrect call on the presence of a bed bug infestation.


Canine scent detection can be very effective for large-scale inspections where doing a visual inspection is not practical. This includes areas like hotel rooms, college dorms, movie theaters, schools, retirement homes, and entire apartment complexes.

Nonetheless, bed bug scent detection is a whole different level to a bed bug inspection. Bed bugs that cannot be detected by a bed bug exterminator may be picked up by a bed bug dog and vice versa. It can lead to a dynamic team effort. Bed bugs are so difficult to detect that many different methods can be used and proven to work in many different locations. The more effort you put into an inspection, the easier time you have to find them, the easier it is to eradicate them.

Luckily for a bed bug heat treatment, it kills ALL bed bugs in all locations of the house. So even a location with bed bugs was missed during the inspection, it won’t be missed by the heat. If you are in Cleveland, OH and are looking for a bed bug heat treatment, call Bed Bug BBQ today at (216) 221-1227 or contact us through our website today.


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