There are some animals we love to share our homes with, and others we could do without, including ants. An ant infestation can certainly be a headache to deal with, which is why many people opt for poisonous ant bait traps to rid their domiciles of these invasive insects. Sometimes, however, the family dog can be enticed by the sweet smell of some of these store-bought traps, which can yield disastrous effects if your dog ate ant poison.
Food poisoning symptoms
First thing's first — ant poison can do serious damage to ants, but most dogs will need to eat an enormous amount of the stuff to become seriously ill, so you shouldn't panic but will need to take some health measures. According to Today's Veterinary Nurse, ant bait traps do commonly contain insecticides like boric acid, fipronil and abamectin, but the concentrations are so low that housepets rarely experience side effects after eating one trap.
So, unlike other bait traps like gopher or snail poison, which, according to VCA Hospitals can be fatally toxic to dogs, a dog's reaction to ant bait traps generally mimics symptoms of food poisoning. Common signs of food poisoning in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea and stomach bloating, and, while generally non-fatal to healthy dogs, should be taken seriously after ingesting anything foreign.
What to do
If you've noticed that your dog has eaten an ant bait trap, Banfield Pet Hospital does recommend calling your local veterinarian. While ant bait ingestion is generally non-fatal, the symptoms associated with ingestion can lead to additional medical issues like dehydration and should be addressed immediately. Depending on how much poison was consumed, your veterinarian may opt to induce vomiting by administering activated charcoal, which can rid your dog's body of lingering poisons and toxins.
If you can't reach a doctor right away, you can call the pet poison control hotline at 1-800-213-6680, who may be able to assist you with treatment options specific to the type of poison your dog has ingested.
Pet-safe ant deterrent
If an ant infestation is a chronic problem your home faces, or if you can count on these bugs to find their way inside at a certain time every year, you can still fight them off without risking your dog's health. For an ant infestation inside the home, a homemade spray made from three tablespoons of non-toxic dish soap and 16 ounces of water can send ants packing if you target the most heavily-invaded area. An ant hill outside in your yard can result in ants inside of your home but a quick spray with a water hose will usually dissolve most ant homes without harming your pets or the ants.
Pet-safe store-bought options are also available in most pet stores and at some home repair retailers — just be sure to read the labels carefully to make sure that specific formula is guaranteed to be pet-friendly. Many safe options rely on essential oils like citrus, eucalyptus and lemongrass to control pests, which can be safe for dogs when used in very small and diluted amounts. Another earth-friendly pest control favorite is diatomaceous earth, which is popular when ridding homes of fleas. When reaching for diatomaceous earth, however, be sure to look for varieties labeled "food-grade" which are non-toxic if ingested by dogs.