SEOUL, Dec. 1 (Korea Bizwire) – In a growing trend fueled by an increase in sightings of bedbugs across the country, pet owners in South Korea are taking unprecedented measures to protect their furry friends. Some pet owners have even been purchasing disposable shoes for their canine companions, reflecting a rising concern about potential encounters between pets and bedbugs during walks.
As reports of bedbug appearances have circulated nationwide since last month, pet owners have become increasingly anxious about the possibility of their pets being exposed to these creatures during outdoor strolls. The surge in public fear over bedbugs has prompted a growing number of pet owners to seek preventive measures, evident in online forums where inquiries about the likelihood of pets being bitten, preventive methods, and coping strategies are becoming more frequent.
The owner of a toy poodle, who wished to remain anonymous, remarked on the growing concern within his family, stating, “When stories about bedbugs emerged, we started to become worried about our dog.” This led to a search for bedbug deterrents, the subsequent purchase of disposable shoes, and a new habit of dressing the dog in protective clothing during walks, as well as meticulously examining the dog’s fur between walks, keeping it shorter than usual.
Another pet owner, referred to only as Kang, has drastically reduced his three dogs’ daily walking time from 3 to 4 hours to just 20 minutes. After walks, Kang thoroughly inspects his dogs’ fur, checking their paws, belly, face, and ears thoroughly. Kang expressed concerns, saying, “I heard that being bitten by a bedbug is itchier than a mosquito bite. Since one of my dogs already has sensitive skin, I worry that scratching may lead to secondary infections.”
Even those who share their homes with cats, which typically do not require walks, are not exempt from bedbug-related anxieties. Some cat owners are going to great lengths to sanitize their clothes and belongings after returning from overseas trips or using public transportation, fearing the potential transfer of bedbugs.
Experts acknowledge that the likelihood of pets being bitten by bedbugs is lower than that for humans but stress the importance of appropriate prevention. Professor Yang Young-cheol from Eulji University’s Department of Public Health and Environmental Safety explained, “Dogs and cats have thick fur, which makes it difficult for bedbugs to feed on their blood. However, areas with less fur, such as the abdomen, are susceptible to bites.”
While there are insecticides available to prevent bedbug bites, experts emphasize that directly applying them to pets is not advisable. “Since bedbugs dwell indoors rather than outdoors, the chance of bedbugs attaching to pets during walks is close to zero. Pet owners should be cautious not to bring bedbugs into their homes from outside and focus on preventing bedbugs from inhabiting their living spaces,” noted Yang.
Experts have also provided guidance on using insecticides, emphasizing that bedbugs spend less than 10 minutes a day feeding on blood from humans or animals, and so applying insecticides to the living spaces where bedbugs reside is more effective than directly applying them to pets.
Furthermore, commercially available bedbug repellents for pets have not undergone clinical trials specifically for bedbug infestation, making their efficacy uncertain. In the event of a pet being bitten, especially if the bite goes unnoticed due to fur coverage, experts recommend seeking veterinary care if the animal exhibits severe itching, as bedbug-infested living spaces should be addressed by pest control professionals.
M. H. Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)