By Paula Ebben, WBZ-TVBy Paula Ebben

BOSTON (CBS) – As summer arrives and you head for a little fun in the sun you’ll want to make sure you don’t bring home an unwanted souvenir: bed bugs.

To avoid that nightmare you need to know that bed bugs don’t just seek out humans. They can also use your pet to hitch a ride into your home.

Charlotte Reed loves to travel with her dog, but worries about exposing her pet to bed bugs when they’re on the road.

“My dog sleeps in the bed with me,” Reed says. “So just like I’m exposed to bed bugs at night in the bed, so is she.”

It’s a valid concern says Jeffrey White of Bedbug Central. In fact, a recent survey found 67 percent of pest management companies have treated bed bugs in hotel rooms. And White says all pets are fair game.

“Dogs, cats, birds, guinea pigs, any pet, for instance, could be a food source for a bed bug,” White says.

While bed bugs don’t tend to live on pets long-term, like fleas and ticks, that doesn’t mean your pet can’t bring them home. Bed bugs can hitch a ride on your pet or snuggle up inside its bedding.

So how can you keep your pets and your home safe? First, experts say, when traveling thoroughly inspect your hotel room for bugs before you bring your pet through the door. The bugs are visible to the naked eye.

“One of the most common areas that you want to inspect when you stay in a hotel room is either the headboard, where bugs will typically hide, or the bottom of the box spring,” White says.

Second, consider leaving your pet’s bedding in the bathroom, where there will be less chance of bugs. And consider treating the carrier with a pet safe bed bug repellent spray.

When you check out, make sure to examine your pet’s bedding thoroughly. And take further precautions once you get home.

“Immediately launder (bedding) in the hottest water that you can,” says Kimberly May of the American Veterinary Medical Association. “If there are any rips or holes in it, you want to discard it.”

While none of these precautions can guarantee to keep your pets and home bed bug free, experts say they can cut down the risk, Something Charlotte is determined to do.

“Bed bugs can travel anywhere,” says Reed. “Always be prepared.”

Unlike fleas and ticks, beg bugs aren’t known to carry disease. Their bites are merely irritating and itchy to pets and people.

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