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What Should You Do If Your Dog Ate An Ant Trap?

When you have a dog, you gradually accept that the floor is their territory and whatever ends up down there has a high chance of ending up in your dog’s stomach before you can do something about it. Unfortunately, insect traps are no exception to this rule.

If your dog ate an ant trap, know that these traps aren’t poisonous to them, but to be safe, call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline, after that, you will probably have to watch over your dog for a few hours to see if they develop any symptoms.

What should you do if your dog eats an ant trap?

The first thing you want to do is to remove what’s left of the trap before your dog has any chance to finish the job. Since it’s better to be safe than sorry, remove all the other ant baits around the house as well.

Retrieve the package of the trap where you can find the list of components and ring up your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline.

If the bait is of a well-known brand, for example, if your dog ate a Raid ant trap, the experts will probably already know whether any component is dangerous for your pet. Usually, there’s nothing particularly harmful, but they will give you advice on what to do next.

Dogs may get a little sick after eating these traps, usually showing symptoms of gastrointestinal discomfort like vomiting and nausea, or excessive salivation due to the drying action of the bait (which is what kills the ants).

Ant baits in general do not contain enough poison to hurt a dog, even a small one. Your pooch would have to eat many ant traps to feel sick, so unless you have many traps around the house and your dog went through them all, they should be fine.

One thing you need to avoid is to induce vomiting in your dog unless you’re told to do so by your veterinarian. It’s usually not necessary with ant traps and could be potentially harmful because of the pieces of plastic.

In fact, the plastic around the bait is far more concerning than the poison because it could cause GI tract conditions and even internal wounds.

If your dog has recurring gastrointestinal discomfort, is feverish or you find blood in the vomit or stools, they will need a medical examination as soon as possible.

What happens if a dog licks an ant trap? 

In most cases, dogs come out of their ant trap feast completely unharmed.

Ant traps actually contain very small amounts of poison, while the rest is composed of inert ingredients that are usually something that gives the bait an alluring smell and taste.

These products are specially made pet-safe because of the risk related to having insect traps in a house where pets might live. Today, they’re increasingly organic-based and environmental-friendly, on top of being child- and pet-friendly.

Of course, this doesn’t mean your child or your dog should add ant traps to their diet and if your dog ate ant poison, you should take the right precautions so that it doesn’t happen again.

In fact, the one thing you should look out for is actually the plastic housing around the bait.

Plastic can be extremely harmful to dogs because it’s indigestible, but if your dog ate an ant bait whole and you don’t see any plastic fragments around, they might avoid the worst, meaning internal wounds provoked by the sharp edges of the shards.

However, if your dog chewed the ant trap before swallowing it, there’s a chance some fragments may provoke damage such as:

  • Hurt their mouth or teeth
  • Get stuck in the esophagus, thus causing suffocation
  • Lodge in the stomach or intestines
  • Provoke internal wounds inside the organs
  • Cause the rupture of the stomach or intestines

This is why if your dog ate ant traps, it’s always safer to call your veterinarian.

Gastrointestinal blockage 

Bowel obstruction happens when a dog ingests a foreign object that can’t be digested or passed through the digestive system and ends up causing a partial or total obstruction of the stomach or intestines.

Ask any veterinarian and they will probably tell you they deal with gastrointestinal obstruction in dogs on a daily basis. It’s a given when you have a pet that fearlessly eats whatever they find on their way.

However, a gastrointestinal blockage can be a serious condition that might end up in an expensive surgery, difficult post-surgery recovery for your pet, and, in severe cases, the removal of part of the intestines.

In fact, bowel obstruction usually decreases the blood flow in the digestive tract and if not treated in time, the affected organ can deteriorate and go into necrosis.

Linear objects like dental floss or sticks can also cause GI tract blockage and intussusception, which happens when a part of the intestines telescopes inside another.

Although the plastic housing of ant traps is usually too small for the average dog to experience a blockage, small dogs may be at a disadvantage. Also, whether big or small, a piece of plastic may lodge inside the stomach and stay there for a long time without symptoms until it’s too late.

Early symptoms of gastrointestinal blockage in dogs include:

  • Vomiting (with or without blood)
  • Diarrhea (with or without blood)
  • Black stools (blood in the stools)
  • Nausea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abdominal swelling
  • Lethargy
  • Weakness
  • Excessive whining
  • Refraining from lying on the belly

None of these symptoms should be underestimated, especially in regards to plastic ingestions. If your dog shows one or more of these signs, bring them to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Peritonitis 

A dangerous and often lethal consequence of bowel obstruction by indigestible or sharp objects is peritonitis.

Peritonitis is the inflammation of the membrane that lines up the abdominal cavity, often provoked by a rupture in the stomach or intestines due to a foreign item.

This condition is extremely painful for your dog and can turn life-threatening very quickly because the content of the stomach or intestines spill outside of the abdominal cavity and may provoke bacterial infections that quickly reach the other major organs through the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, early symptoms of peritonitis are very similar to those of bowel obstruction, so a proper diagnosis can only be done upon medical examination, which should be carried out as soon as possible to avoid the most tragic outcome.

Why do dogs eat ant traps?

Dogs explore the world with their mouth and nose and they’re highly-intelligent and curious animals. Finding ant traps around the house may be a new experience to them, and once they need to figure out the only way they know how: with a taste-test.

It doesn’t help that ant traps usually contain small amounts of foods that dogs love, like peanut butter. Given that their sense of smell is 40 times stronger than humans’, they are able to identify the ingredients before they even see the trap.

Dogs are not famous for being able to resist such temptations and while attempting to get a taste of the food, they may swallow the trap altogether.

Other inert ingredients contained in ant traps can also be full of sugars, oils, and fats, which are not good for your dog. Even though the amounts contained in an ant trap is not enough to hurt your dog, you shouldn’t allow them near these unconventional snacks.

How to stop your dog from eating ant traps. 

Of course, you can’t just get rid of ant traps completely if these insects are a real problem for your home. However, you can take the right precautions so that your dog doesn’t happen to cross paths with them.

For example, you should try to put them in places your dog can’t reach, like inside a cabinet instead of under the cabinet.

Sure, having ant traps on your kitchen counter or anywhere near your utensils or food is not a pleasant or healthy idea, so if you want to solve your ant problem without using baits, there are several alternatives that could be right for you:

– Pet-friendly traps: you can probably find them in your local pet store. They’re usually made from citrus, lemongrass, and other essential oils that are safe for your dog when in small amounts or diluted. Make sure to read the ingredients and check they’re actually pet-friendly;

– Diatomaceous earth: this non-toxic, natural substance made from crushed fossils is a cheap but very effective way to get rid of insects. It’s deadly to them, but completely safe for pets because it’s not made of poison or any other chemical substance. In fact, it kills insects by simply piercing through their coat and dehydrating them. Be sure to buy the “food-grade” variety that is safe for dogs to eat (not that they should!);

– Homemade spray: by simply mixing 16 ounces of water with three tablespoons of non-toxic dish detergent, you can make a powerful ant-repellent that will be very effective when sprayed over the most affected areas;

– Water: if you can identify the ant hills in your garden, it will be enough to spray a little water on them to dissolve them with no risks for your pets or the ants.

Whatever method you decide to use from now on, make sure to dispose of the old ant traps safely and properly, so that your dog doesn’t find them again.

Some dogs are real garbage surfers, so make sure to throw the ant traps out with the trash immediately or consider investing in a dog-proof trash bin.

Are ant traps safe for dogs? 

The poison contained in ant traps will most likely not hurt your dog in that amount, but that doesn’t mean it’s safe for your dog to eat or that you just overlook the situation.

Ant traps usually have a plastic housing that can be very dangerous if ingested, even more than the poison, causing bowel obstruction or even rupture of the intestines in severe cases.

Dogs are attracted to the smell of the food used in the ant traps, so they shouldn’t be left in places your dog has easy access to. If you’re unable to place the traps somewhere that your dog can’t access, consider using pet-friendly traps or homemade remedies instead.

In any case, the first thing to do after your dog ate an ant trap, is to call your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline and follow their instructions.