Ants can be problematic in your home. Not only are they unsightly but they'll carry off every little crumb they find, and they will happily chow down on your pet's food.
You would never eat your food if it were crawling with bugs, so how can you expect your pet to be pleased with their meal if there are ants in cat food or ants in dog food? Of course you would never expect your beloved furry family member to live that way!
Today we will be discussing different methods for you to use for how to keep ants out of cat food, how to keep ants out of dog food as well as natural ways to keep ants away.
When it is time to fill the cat food bowl, you'll be displeased to see it crawling with hundreds of ants. Unfortunately, pet food is like a magnet for pests, so you'll want to find a way to get rid of the ants as quickly as possible.
Can cats eat ants? Can dogs eat ants?
What happens if your pet starts chowing down their food before you realize it is full of ants? You might worry for the health of your cat or dog, but it is likely that you don't need to do so.
Cats are pernicious hunters. They love chasing down their pray and plating with it before tackling it and devouring it. Cats love to chase bugs and play with them, and ants are no different.
In North America, the most common ants in your home will likely be large black ants. These ants will not be toxic to your cats. The only time you should be concerned with common ants is if your cat has eaten an entire nest of them.
Common ants secrete something called formic acid when they bite, and if your cat is eating the ants it is likely that the ants aren't going down without a fight. If your cat eats a whole bunch of ants before you notice them crawling in the cat food bowl, they might experience some irritation in their mouth. This likely won't cause any serious issues, though.
Sometimes you will get fire ants in your home, and these ants pose an entirely different threat to your cats. Not only are the bites from fire ants extremely painful, they are full of venom. You might think a tiny ant can't do much damage, but with enough bites your poor kitty could be in quite a lot of pain. The bites from fire ants can also cause an allergic reaction in your cat, and a severe enough reaction could lead to anaphylaxis. This would likely lead to your cat's death, so obviously you want to avoid this at all costs.
If there's one thing you've noticed about your dog, it's probably that he is not picky when it comes to food. As longs as he can eat it, it's fair game to him!
A few pups will turn their noses up to a dog food bowl of chow that looks alive, but a bowl full of ants will likely not bother your pooch in the least – even if it is a nuisance to you.
It might surprise you to know that these creepy critters can actually provide your dog with a small dose of vitamin C and a tiny bit of extra protein. Of course, you shouldn't start adding ants to the kibble, but they're not going to cause serious problems if your dog eats a few.
Common ants will pose almost no threat to your dog, but fire ants are a different story. Just as with cats, the bite of a fire ant can be extremely painful for your dog and the venom in the bite can cause serious health problems. This issue is exacerbated if you have an extremely small teacup sized dog, as it will take less venom to cause harm to them.
Again, you will want to get rid of the ants quickly – but how can you do it safely?
Keep ants away from your pet's food bowl
There are many things you can do to keep ants out of the dog food bowl.
1. Ant spray
Most commercial pest sprays are not safe for use around animals. Chemical sprays can pose serious health threats for your beloved pets, so you will need to be especially careful when you are spraying for ants near your cat food or dog food.
Look for an ant spray safe for dogs or an ant repellant safe for cats. There are not very many, so your next best option is to make your dog safe ant spray yourself.
A common ingredient in homemade ant repellant is dish soap. Fill your bottle with water and a bit of liquid soap. Do not spray this on your pet's food, but instead find the trail of ants and spray this soapy mixture over them. Soapy water is like an insecticide and will kill the ants. Once they are dead, clean up the mess that has been left behind.
Another option is to make a concoction with vinegar or lemon juice. The acidic and citrusy smells repel ants naturally. Fill a spray bottle with water and vinegar or water and lemon juice and spray where you see the trail of ants. Spray this liquid near your pet's food bowl (but not ON their food) to deter ants as well. You can even use this spray around the doorways and windows of your home to try to keep the ants from getting in at all.
2. Ant proof bowls
One thing you could do is purchase an ant proof dog food bowl or an ant proof cat food bowl. These bowls are designed to keep ants out of your pet's food. They work because they are made of two bowls, essentially. You place your cat or dog food into one bowl and set it on top of another bowl that has a small opening in the bottom. You fill this opening with water, and when the ants come crawling in expecting a feast, instead they drown in the water.
If you've had it with the ants and don't want to wait on shipping, you can also make your own ant proof food bowl. In a large tray or container, set a canning ring in place. Fill the container or tray with water until it is about halfway up the side of the canning ring. Place your cat food bowl or dog food bowl on top of the canning ring and fill it with food. Now your pet's food is like an island surrounded by water and the ants shouldn't be able to get to it at all.
You might be wondering “Can ants swim?” Well, some of them can. They won't be doing a backstroke or butterfly stroke anytime soon, but some ants have developed the ability to survive in water. This is especially true of large colonies of fire ants. You likely won't face this problem in your home with common household ants, though.
3. Petroleum jelly
Another thing you can use to keep the ants away is petroleum jelly, like Vaseline.
Your cat might try eating petroleum jelly, and while it isn't nutritious it likely won't hurt your pet. As a matter of fact, using petroleum jelly for cats is common practice to get rid of hairballs. When mixed with mineral oil it lubricates the clumps of hair, allowing them to pass through your cat's digestive system. So, is Vaseline safe for cats? Yes, it is.
Is Vaseline safe for dogs? That's not a straightforward answer. Dogs should not be allowed to go on eating petroleum jelly. It won't hurt them necessarily, but too much of it can give your dog diarrhea.
To use petroleum jelly for dog's food bowls and cat's food bowl, it is a simple task.
Simply flip the food bowl over so that it is upside down. Using your finger, dab the Vaseline or other type of petroleum jelly around the base of the bowl. This will form a barrier that is slippery, and it will be difficult for the ants to get through. They will get stuck trying to climb through it and won't make it into the food bowl.
Just be sure that the petroleum jelly is at the base of the bowl, not all the way up at the top. While it isn't going to be toxic to your cats or dogs, you still don't want to let them eat too much of it.
Another natural ingredient that works is peppermint. You can grow peppermint plants around the outside of your home, but what they really hate is peppermint oil. Ants do not like the scent of peppermint, so using peppermint oil is a good deterrent for them.
You can mix a solution in a bottle using water and peppermint oil. It doesn't take much either, just 10 drops or so mixed into the water. Use this mixture to spray around your doorways and windowsills, and spray near your pet's food bowl but be careful to not get in in the food.
Will peppermint oil get rid of ants? Sure! But you need to be careful that your pets don't ingest it. According to the ASPCA peppermint is toxic to dogs if they eat it. It can be used externally, and is even an ingredient in some flea medication, but internally it can cause problems.
Cats are also sensitive to peppermint oil, so if you use it to kill ants you need to be cautious. Peppermint oil can give your cat an upset stomach, it can wreak havoc on your cat's nervous system and it can even cause liver damage in your cat. Be sure your cat never, ever ingests peppermint oil or anything from the peppermint plant.
5. Sugar mixtures
A lot of people use sugar mixtures to kill ants as well. To do this you just mix sugar with something that is good at killing ants – but be sure that whatever this is can be used safely around your pets, too. The sugar attracts the ants to eat the mixture, and the other part of it is what kills them.
One popular option is baking soda. Simply mix sugar and baking soda together in equal parts and leave it in an area that you know ants frequent.
Another choice is boric acid. Again, mix the sugar and boric acid in a 1:1 ratio and leave it near entry points for ants. The sugar entices the ants and the boric acid poisons them and destroys their exoskeleton.
Cornmeal and sugar work well, too. Mix them and leave this snack for the ants. The cornmeal is impossible for them to digest and when it can't be excreted the ants will essentially explode.
Getting rid of ants before they get inside
To effectively get rid of the ants in your pet's food you'll want to stop them from getting to the food in the first place. This can seem like an impossible task, but it doesn't have to be.
You'll want to follow the trail of ants to see where they are coming from, and where they are carrying your cat and dog food away. You'll want to kill them at the source, before they have a chance to traipse through your house repeatedly.
If you have a dog that stays outside, you'll want to be sure that you use a dog proof outdoor ant killer. It is also likely that you keep a dog food bucket outside for your outdoor dog, and this is sure to be full of ants if there is a pest problem.
Keep your dog away from the area and treat the ant mound with a dog safe ant killer like diatomaceous earth. This is cost effective and it is great at killing ants (and other pests as well).
When the ants crawl through this powder, it scratches the fossil shards and dries out their exoskeletons. This slowly kills the ants and the will no longer bother you.
You want to keep ants – especially dangerous fire ants – away from your pet and their food, but you need to do it safely so that you don't harm your pet.
Above we listed many natural ways to keep ants away, and we hope you find our information useful.