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Can Dog’s Eat Ants?

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The purpose of this article is to explain “Can Dog’s Eat Ants?“.

When Sylvie, my youngest Golden Retriever, was a puppy, she would stare intently at ants crawling across the patio in the summer.

As she was transfixed, her nose almost touched theirs.

In her adult years, she has graduated to staring intently at squirrels and pigeons, which do not strain her eyes as much.

However, what do you do if you have a dog (probably a puppy) that not only stares at ants but eats them as well? Does he throw up after eating them?

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Can dogs be poisoned by ants? Stay with me as I investigate.  

What types of ants are most common (in the USA)

The number of ant species worldwide is estimated at twenty thousand. We see about 75 different species in and around our homes in the US. There are about 700 different species in the wild.  

These are some of the most common species: 

NameSting BiteDiseaseDiet
(1)ArgentineNoYesNot to dogsMeats, sugars
(2)CarpenterNoYesNoMeats, sugars
(3)PharaohNoYesSalmonella, StreptococcusMeat, fat, blood
(4)SugarNoYesNoAnything sweet
(5)Black HouseNoYesNo Anything sweet
(6)Odorous HouseNoNoNoAnything sweet

Therefore, I have highlighted the six most common species of ants found in the U.S. in the chart above.

The first thing to note is that none of these ants stings, but they can bite. It the odorless and, on the other hand, does not sting or bite.

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When looking at the disease column, all but one of these ants are harmless and won’t cause harm to your dog (or you).

Some exceptions do exist, however.

Known to carry diseases such as salmonella and streptococcus, the Pharaoh ant. 

The Argentine ant does not carry a disease that could harm humans or dogs, but it does carry a disease that can kill bees. 

Lastly, all ants are “wild animals” and so they carry the potential for germs and diseases in their bodies.

In a subsequent section, I will describe the contents of the diet column. 

For my final question, I would like to ask you.

What is the origin of the name Odorous Ants?

As a result of being squashed, they release an odor that smells like coconuts!

As we move along, let’s examine why dogs may eat ants in the first place. 

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Two main reasons that dogs eat ants

I believe that there is a one really important reason why some dogs eat ants.

In other words, the ants are either on their food or in their water bowl, so they are accidentally consumed. 

The next section will discussants and dog food bowls. 

However, there is another reason why dogs eat ants.

It is not uncommon for dogs to eat ants for no reason other than to eat them.

Although you could argue that dogs eat ants because they are a source of protein, I think it is stretching the point as ants are so small.

Dogs that eat ants have a high prey drive, say some people.

I feel, however, that this is pushing things too far.

Do dogs actually see a small insect-like ant as prey? 

Dogs that will munch on ant hills while out on a walk or eat ants they find crawling around on the floor of the kitchen.

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Dogs like these eat anything that is available – grass, dandelions, cat poop, the list goes on and on. 

It’s common for puppies to eat anything and everything indiscriminately.  

Six ways to get ants off a dog

In addition to their food bowls, dogs and ants can come into contact in many other ways. 

Occasionally, a dog might accidentally disturb an ant’s nest while out for a walk.

Perhaps your dog strays off the path while bounding after a squirrel and runs into an ant nest as he runs through an ant nest. 

Alternatively, your dog may roll on top of an ant colony after taking a quick dip in a river on a hot day. 

However, the problem here is not that your dog ate a few ants, it is that he has several crawling all over him. 

If your dog is as sensitive to anything touching its skin as mine, you will have a very agitated dog on your hands.

If your dog has a lot of ants on it, your best option is to do one of the following:

If your dog has them, pick them up individually, 

You can brush them off with the flat of your hand. 

You can also get them into a nearby river or lake if there is one

You can have your dog roll in a dried patch of dirt nearby or you can rub the dirt into his coat.

You have two more options if your dog suddenly becomes infested with ants while you’re at home

The best way to house the dog is to use a shower attachment

You should comb or brush your dog.

How do ants find food?

The ants use their keen sense of smell to locate food (whether it be grape jelly on your work surface, orange juice on the floor, or food in your dog’s bowl). 

Researchers have discovered that they possess one of the best senses of smell among all animals. 

Its sense of smell is so good that it has sometimes been called “high definition”.  

There’s more to the genius than that.

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In addition to helping them find food, their sense of smell also helps them return home. An ant leaves behind a trail of chemical scents as it searches for food, which it can use to find its way home or back to the food later. 

The Carpenter ant is even more sophisticated.

Along with their sense of smell, they also use their eyes to remember landmarks on their journeys.

Read about it all here! It sounds unbelievable, but it’s true!

Ok, I got a little excited, I didn’t mean to write about an ant’s sense of smell in such detail.

In the next section, we will investigate why dog food is so attractive to ants.

Why are ants attracted to dog food?

Dog food may not necessarily be particularly interesting to ants, it may just be that it is the one piece of “food” that is frequently left out (or the largest lump of food) and so is easily accessible to ants. 

As do dogs, ants have a keen sense of smell.

The smell of dried dog food has also been designed to make it as appealing as the taste. 

That same aroma that has been designed to win over your dog, will also attract ants.

Canning (and wet dog food) and raw food are also very pungent.

NameSting BiteDiseaseDiet
(1)ArgentineNoYesNot to dogsMeats, sugars
(2)CarpenterNoYesNoMeats, sugars
(3)PharaohNoYesSalmonella, StreptococcusMeat, fat, blood
(4)SugarNoYesNoAnything sweet
(5)Black HouseNoYesNo Anything sweet
(6)Odorous HouseNoNoNoAnything sweet

On our ant chart, we can see that most ants are sweet-toothed, but that some species, including carpenter ants and pharaoh ants, like meat too. 

How do keep ants away from dog food?

Keeping dog food out of reach of ants is the most fundamental thing you can do.

We can deal with this for the most part if we keep our dogs inside and feed them once or twice a day according to a strict schedule.

It is merely a matter of remembering to wash up the dog bowls after use and to throw away any “spoilt” food. 

Do dog owners who keep their dogs outside or allow them to graze and have access to food all day long have a problem?

This is much more difficult to manage because it is much harder to keep clean.

Dogs on a grazing diet will typically be eating kibble, which is much less likely to attract ants than canned or raw food.

It is important to keep the kibble as dry as possible because it gives off a stronger aroma when it is wet.

How can we accomplish this?

24/7, remove any wet pieces of kibble from the bowl by hovering over it.

No, I’m not serious.

The best way to keep the kibble as dry as possible is to separate the water bowl from the food bowl, reducing the amount of water that your dog could dribble on their food.

My dog ate ants and threw up (four considerations) 

We have a very interesting case here. 

The reason for your dog’s vomiting is very unlikely to be directly related to eating ants.

Ants are not poisonous to dogs in and of themselves. 

Eating an ant won’t necessarily cause a dog to vomit. 

As we have said before, Pharaoh ants can carry dangerous diseases, but the likelihood of your dog eating an infected ant is minimal. 

It would take at least a few hours for a dog to become infected with salmonella from an ant. 

In any case, you can check on salmonella symptoms here. 

Therefore, if the dog vomits immediately after eating ants, you can rule this out. 

Unless the texture of the ants caused your dog to gag and vomit when it was swallowing them, it is much more likely that the reason why your dog is throwing up has nothing to do with the ants.

There is a possibility that your dog ate something else that caused it to vomit. 

If you are concerned, or your dog seems ill, you should contact your veterinarian or the pet poison helpline. 

If you want to read more about dog health tips, read here: Dog Health Tips and Tricks.

Can Dog’s Eat Ants? (Watch Video)

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