If It's Poisonous to Ants, Is It Poisonous to Dogs?

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Got ants?

Nobody wants ants in their home. Many commercially available ant traps and ant baits are available to for homeowners to kill ants in their home. But what if you have a dog? What if you have a dog that likes to eat ant traps!? If it is poisonous to the ants, what will it do to your dog?

The answer is: hopefully, not too much. The ant poison itself is usually designed not to be toxic to mammals, precisely because pets could ingest them. Also, your dog is probably large enough, that what toxicity the ant poison does contain, should not affect him too severely. However, if your dog ingests the entire trap, plastic and all, the trap itself could cause problems for your dog if it causes a blockage or injury in your dog's gastrointestinal system. There are several things you should know about using ant traps in your home with a dog present, and what to do if your dog decides to snack on one.


Tasty Bait
Ant traps tend to be baited with substances that are attractive to ants, like food substances, such as peanut butter. Unfortunately, this will also attract your pets, especially your food-motivated dog, who thinks he has found a special snack just for him. This may cause your dog to chew on or even ingest the trap. If your dog has just chewed on a trap, remove the trap and observe your dog for signs of illness. The ant poison in most commercially available ant traps is designed to not be harmful to dogs, so they will probably be OK, but you should monitor your dog and contact your veterinarian if you have any concerns. Giving the dog a meal and lots of water to get the digestive system lubricated and moving may help absorb any substances ingested, and cause them to move through the gastrointestinal tract faster.


Problematic Plastic
A more serious concern arises when the dog ingests the entire ant trap. The concern is not so much the ant poison ingested, as the plastic trap itself. The plastic traps are non-digestible, non-food items, that can harm your dog's digestive tract. Larger dogs may be able to pass the ant trap easier, unless they are prone to digestive blockages, and then complications can occur. Watch for signs that a blockage has occurred, or worse yet bloat: a dangerous condition in which the dog's stomach twists at both ends, preventing any passage of substance in or out of the stomach. Some vomiting and diarrhea may occur after eating a non-food item but if more severe symptoms occur medical treatment should be obtained. Observe your dog carefully for signs of distress that may indicate a more serious condition. If severe symptoms of abdominal pain, retching and severe diarrhea occur, a blockage or bloat may have occurred--contact a veterinarian immediately. To decrease the chance of blockage occurring, give your dog plenty of water, and several small amounts of soft food to move the ingested item through the gastrointestinal tract.


Toxicity
If you are using ant traps or other insecticides, read the packaging carefully to see if it is non-toxic to pets before use. Keep the packaging so if your dog ingests a trap, it can be provided to the veterinarian for information if necessary. Some insect baits containing metaldyne may be harmful to dogs, although they are less commonly used in household insecticides due to their toxicity. When using ant traps, or other insect traps, or bait, place them in areas where your dog, children, and other pets cannot reach them, such as under sinks in enclosed cupboards, behind appliances or furniture, or in locked, inaccessible areas.


Common Sense Safety
If you need to use ant traps or other methods of ridding your home or yard of insects, be sure you know whether the traps or substances you are using are harmful to your pets if they come in contact with them. Usually, commercial insecticides are not especially toxic to your pet, but ingestion of the traps that contain them may be harmful to your dog's digestive system. If your dog ingests any item or substance used for insect control, monitor your dog carefully and obtain veterinary help if symptoms of gastrointestinal distress manifest. Always remember to place insect traps and poisons where your pets cannot reach them, to prevent possible harm.