Of all the things that dogs eat, items containing poisons are often the most troubling.
This includes ant traps – the little plastic doodads many people place under kitchen counters and inside pantries to help address problems with ants.
Luckily, the poisons used in these devices are unlikely to harm most dogs – at least in the quantities present in a typical ant trap.
But that doesn’t mean these pest-control devices are completely harmless, either. They can cause dogs serious health problems, and you’ll want to treat the situation seriously.
We’ll talk about the dangers presented by ant traps below and explain what steps you’ll need to take on your dog’s behalf.
The first thing you’ll want to do when you discover your dog devouring an ant trap is to prevent the problem from getting any worse. Take the ant trap away if your dog is still chewing on it and remove any other ant traps that may be sitting around the house.
Then, grab the box the ant traps came in (if possible) and call your vet or the Pet Poison Helpline and follow the advice given. You can also jump on a live chat with a veterinarian from JustAnswer, who should be able to help you assess the situation.
Do not induce vomiting unless instructed to do so by a veterinary professional.
Ant traps utilize a number of different poisons to kill their intended targets.
Some of the most common include:
These poisons vary in terms of the danger they represent to dogs, but, in almost all cases, the quantities present are too small to sicken your pet.
According to Dr. Scott Nimmo MRCVS, BVMS, “even a small dog would have to eat the contents of quite a few of these traps before there would be any serious toxicity concerns.”
In most cases, your dog is unlikely to suffer anything more serious than minor gastrointestinal symptoms, such as:
Note that these symptoms are often triggered by the inert chemicals in the trap (the things used to bind and preserve the bait), rather than the poison itself. Additionally, most such symptoms are self-limiting and resolve on their own without medical attention.
Surprisingly, the plastic exterior of an ant trap usually represents the biggest threat to your pet’s health and safety.
Plastic can be very dangerous for dogs. Big pieces of plastic can cause scrapes or cuts to your dog’s digestive tract and even obstructions.
When you contact your vet, he or she will likely warn you to watch for signs of such an obstruction. Some of the most common symptoms include:
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your vet. He or she will likely recommend that you bring your dog in for an examination. If a blockage is identified, your dog may require surgery to have the plastic removed.
Some vets may recommend that you feed your dog following the ingestion of plastic. This may surround the plastic in a layer of food, which should help reduce the chances of an obstruction and protect your dog’s insides from any sharp edges.
Ant traps are pretty simple devices. They consist of a plastic housing which contains a bit of poisoned food on the inside.
Foraging ants stumble upon the trap, grab a bit of the poisoned food, and take it back to the nest, where it is shared with the rest of the colony.
The poisons used are generally relatively slow-acting so that the ants have time to bring back a significant quantity of food to the nest before they die.
There are two basic reasons many dogs decide to munch on ant traps.
1)They smell tasty. Most ant traps contain some type of smelly food, such as peanut butter or bread crumbs, which is intended to attract the attention of ants. However, many dogs also find the odors emanating from these traps interesting and decide to give them a taste.
2) Dogs investigate things with their mouths. Dogs encounter ant traps while wandering around the house, and, as they do with many other novel things, they often decide to check out the unknown item with their nose and mouth. This often leads to them licking and chewing the trap, and some will even swallow the trap during the process.
Although ant traps do represent a small danger to your pet, that doesn’t mean you have to stop using them entirely if that’s how you decide to deal with your ant problem.
Instead, you’ll just need to exercise care when doing so.
The most important thing to do is to place the traps in places your dog can’t access them. Don’t place them under your kitchen cabinets; instead, place them inside the cabinets. Don’t place them on the floor of your pantry; place them on one of the shelves your dog can’t reach.
You certainly don’t want your dog to eat an ant trap, but they rarely cause serious problems for most dogs. And when problems do occur, they are usually caused by the plastic, rather than the active ingredients.
It’s still an event that should spur you to contact your vet, but your dog will likely be fine.
Has your dog ever eaten an ant trap? What happened? Share your experience in the comments!
Ben is a proud dog owner and lifelong environmental educator who writes about animals, outdoor recreation, science, and environmental issues. He lives with his beautiful wife and spoiled-rotten Rottweiler JB in Atlanta, Georgia. Read more by Ben at FootstepsInTheForest.com.