New survey shows Americans more worried about bed bugs than fleas

PORTLAND, Ore. (June 16, 2011) — Pet owners may be in for a rude awakening, as a new campaign looks to make unsuspecting Americans aware of the “other,” potentially more harmful, bug in the bed.  A nationwide survey of pet owners conducted by Banfield Pet Hospital®, the country’s leading provider of high-quality veterinary care, reveals that three out of four pet owners claim to be aware of the dangers of fleas, yet only 11 percent feel it is worse to have fleas in the bed than bed bugs. According to Banfield Pet Hospital’s The Other Bug in the Bed Survey, conducted by Directive Analytics, 67 percent of pet owners allow their pet to sleep in the bed with them, yet only 16 percent are more worried about fleas than bed bugs; 55 percent say they are unconcerned about either. However, fleas can often transmit diseases to humans, unlike bed bugs, which pose no serious health risk to those bitten.

“While Banfield Pet Hospital is certainly not discounting the issue of bed bugs, the survey brought to light the need to educate pet owners about the dangers of fleas and proper year-round flea prevention,” said Jeffrey Klausner, DVM, senior vice president and chief medical officer of Banfield Pet Hospital.  “With nearly seven out of 10 pet owners sharing the bed with their pets, it is important that both the public and pet owners understand fleas not only bite, but also spread disease to both humans and pets.”

Over the past year, bed bugs have become a topic of interest across the country, especially in the rapidly approaching summer months, as these types of insects thrive in warm weather. A recent study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, however, cited fleas as a top concern when it comes to zoonotic diseases, which are diseases that can be transmitted from animals to humans.2  Fleas can transmit cat scratch fever and tapeworm, as well as other serious diseases. In addition to transmitting diseases, fleas can also bite and leave sores on humans, similar to the types of marks caused by bed bugs.

Fleas, the most common external parasite found in both dogs and cats, are important to prevent as their bite causes a great deal of irritation, and because of their zoonotic potential. According to Banfield’s internal research team, Banfield Applied Research & Knowledge (BARK), the percentage of flea infestation in pets cared for in Banfield hospitals has increased 16 percent in dogs and 12 percent in cats since 2006. In addition, BARK found that the prevalence of fleas increases through spring and summer.

In both dogs and cats, fleas are generally more common in the Southeast and along the West Coast. In 2010, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Florida and Alabama had the greatest prevalence of fleas in dogs, while Oregon, Washington, Oklahoma, Florida and Arkansas had the greatest prevalence of fleas in cats.

To ensure that families aren’t being bit by the misinformation bug, Banfield has created The Other Bug in the Bed awareness campaign to spread the word to pet owners about proper flea prevention for their pets. Along with information about fleas, Banfield’s web site,, hosts a downloadable coupon for a special offer on veterinarian and EPA approved monthly flea preventive to keep the other bed bug off the family pet and out of the bed. Banfield Pet Hospital also encourages fans to play the Pestinator game on their Facebook page,, where pet owners can squash fleas and ticks and download special offers for year-round parasite control.

About Banfield Pet Hospital

Founded in Portland, Ore., in 1955, Banfield has become the largest general veterinary practice in the world, with more than 770 hospitals in neighborhoods across the United States. More than 2,000 veterinarians at Banfield are committed to giving pets the highest quality of veterinary care. Banfield hospitals offer a full range of comprehensive medical services, computerized medical records, preventive care plans for pets and extended operating hours. Banfield Pet Hospital helps extend the lives of millions of pets each year through our Optimum Wellness Plans.

Survey Methodology

The survey was conducted by Directive Analysis in March 2011 via email invitation and an online survey to 1,035American pet owners ages 18 and older. Findings in this report have a margin of error of +/- 4.0%.

About Directive Analytics

Directive Analytics is a full service Marketing Research company located in Trumbull, CT.  We offer a blend of the methodological expertise and rigor of a traditional research company, along with the consultative approach of a marketing consultancy.  For more information, please visit our website at or email us at


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