Do dogs eat ants? (Are dogs an ant control option)

Homeowners worldwide unanimously agree that ants are the number one nuisance pest on the face of the earth. These tiny creatures are not as harmless as they may seem. They can be a real concern for both your property and loved ones. 

Pavement ants can be pretty annoying, leaving piles of soil on the cracks of your sidewalk. Odorous house ants appear mysteriously and create nests on your walls and floors. And they’ll give off a rotten odour when you try to eliminate them. Carpenter ants, the most problematic species, can seriously damage your property as they excavate wood to build nests. 

But these nasty pests pack a punch. They are chock full of proteins, fibre, and minerals such as zinc, phosphorous, iron, potassium, and magnesium. In fact, according to WebMD, ants can be baked, toasted, fried, roasted, added to salads, or eaten raw. So, do dogs eat ants? Yes, dogs eat ants. Actually, dogs often eat ants, but you’d never know it unless you catch them in the act.

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Do Dogs Eat Ants?

Ants live in colonies of thousands of individual insects. These colonies have highly specialized members with clearly defined responsibilities. The queen usually has one job —to lay eggs, and she never leaves the nest. The only responsibility of male ants is to mate with the queen.

All other females in the colony are workers; their job is to feed the larvae, clean and protect the nest, and forage for food. More specifically, female ants that forage for food are called scout ants.

Scout ants have a knack for finding pet food. If they find and like the food in your pet’s bowl, they immediately head back to the nest and inform the other worker ants that they’ve found a new food source. 

In no time, an army of ants will be matching to and from your dog’s bowl, taking a share of the feast. When your furry friend rushes their food bowl, they often don’t notice the ants that have invaded, and they’ll gobble them down as part of their regular food. However, some dogs won’t eat their food if they find ants crawling in their bowl.

What Will Happen If Dogs Eat Ants? 

As you probably already know, dogs eat all kinds of things. So, it’s not uncommon for them to eat ants. In fact, ants won’t harm your furry friend in most cases. Instead, they offer them extra nutrients, including proteins and vitamins. 

However, you should inspect the types of ants in your dog’s bowl because some ant species can be dangerous. For instance, red ants or fire ants can potentially harm your pet as they release alkaloid venom. Depending on your dog’s allergy, it can experience a mild allergic reaction or a severe reaction that sometimes leads to death. 

In addition, a relatively large amount of ants can cause your dog an upset stomach due to the high amounts of proteins. So, you’ll want to throw the food away if it contains a large number of ants. 

In extremely rare cases where your dog ate a massive amount of ants (a whole bucketful at once), they can develop kidney failure or blindness. However, experts agree that these side effects would result from ant powders, as in those contained in protein powders, and not the live ants themselves.

What If My Dog Ate Fire Ants? 

If you suspect or notice fire ants in your pet’s bowl, you should inspect for signs of ant bites immediately. Unlike your ordinary black ants, red ants are aggressively defensive and will bite your pet should it try to eat them. As seen above, red ant bites can be nastier than just an allergic reaction. In case of ant bites on your furry friend, take her to the vet to be sure she’s okay.

Okay, So Are Dogs an Ant Control Option? 

While dogs can help keep the small population of ants in your home at bay, they are not a reliable ant control option. Firstly, dogs only eat ants because they are either in their way of food or inside their food. 

Another reason why your dog may eat ants is his prey drive. Dogs’ biological instincts are to hunt and eat. So if he’s out playing and notices an army of ants, he’ll naturally want to hunt and eat them. 

Another reason would be curiosity. Ants move in a discontinuous and irregular motion, which can easily capture your dog’s attention. They can sniff and lick them, and if they like them, they’ll eat them.

Clearly, your dog won’t go looking for ants to feast on them. So they can’t be an ant control option. Besides, if your pet food invites ants into your home, they can cause irritating and potentially dangerous bites to your loved ones and pets.

Natural Ways to Control Ants at Home Without Using Chemicals

There are many effective ways to get rid of ant colonies in your home. You can set baits in ant activity areas, for instance, in a suspected or known foraging area, moist corners, under appliances, and beneath floors. 

Professional pest controllers are ideal when you’re trying to control a big ant population in commercial or residential premises. Yet, there are many natural solutions that can effectively get rid of ants without using toxic chemicals. Here are the best ways to kill and keep ants away while reducing your carbon footprint:

  • Peppermint 

The smell of peppermint essential oil is an unbearable irritant to insects. Hence, it acts as a natural pest repellent that can help you get rid of ants and other bugs effectively. 

Here’s how to deter ants and keep them away using peppermint: 

  1. Put two cups of water in a clean spray bottle. 
  2. Mix in fifteen drops of peppermint essential oil and shake well to mix
  3. Spray the solution in the activity areas mentioned above
  4. Let the treatment dry and repeat as needed

  • Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous earth is a natural powder made from the sediment of fossilized algae. It effectively controls insects in two ways: Once it comes in direct contact with the insect’s skeleton, it dehydrates it to death. It also removes moisture from an insect habitat, making it hard or impossible for an insect to remain.

For the best insect control results, apply small amounts of diatomaceous earth in the places where ants frequent. Because diatomaceous earth is an irritant, avoid getting it on your skin and keep it away from high-traffic areas. 

  • Black or Red Pepper 

Black or red pepper can be used as an excellent natural insect repellent. Insects find the smell of pepper irritating. When using ground pepper to repel insects, sprinkle it in activity areas like baseboards and behind appliances. 

  • Neem Oil 

Extracted from neem plants, neem oil contains an active ingredient known as Azadirachtin, which repels and kills insects. It interferes with the insects’ hormone system, making it hard for them to feed, grow, or even reproduce. You can buy neem oil online or at any health food store.

  • Lemons

Lemon juice can work as a natural insect repellent. For the best results, squeeze six fresh lemons and combine the juice with a quart of water. Bring the solution to a boil, turn off the heat, and let it steep for about an hour.

Spray the solution in places where ants frequent to destroy the pheromone trail and mask the scent of food. You can also put fresh lemon rinds in the cupboard to keep ants away from your kitchen.

  • White Vinegar

Readily available at almost all grocery stores, white vinegar can help keep the ant population at bay. This cleaning agent effectively kills and repels ants.

You can use1:1 vinegar and water to clean surfaces like countertops, floors, and anywhere else ants frequent. To kill ants, you can spray the treatment directly on them and use a paper towel to wipe them up.

The Bottom Line 

Dogs eat ants and can help keep the small population of ants in your home at bay. However, dogs cannot be a reliable ant control option. The best thing to do when dealing with a stubborn ant infestation is to use more effective measures such as peppermint essential oil, white vinegar, neem oil, and diatomaceous earth.
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