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Can Dogs Eat Ants?

Like people, dogs are prone to uncharacteristic behavior. Eating ants is a prime example. Sometimes dogs eat ants, and that’s all there is to it.

If there are ants crawling in your dog’s food dish, chances are he’ll gobble them up along with his food without giving it a second thought. Unless you’re supervising his every meal, you may never know the ants are there or that he’s eating them.

Eating a few ants isn’t going to do your dog harm or spoil his appetite (ha!) Ants are actually quite nutritious, full of protein, vitamins and minerals.

One thing you should know is that ants love dog food. If you leave your pup’s food dish where ants can get to it, chances are they will invade his food, whether the dish is kept inside or outside of your home.

Every ant colony has members whose primary job is to scout for food and dog food seems to be one of their favorite food sources.

Unless your dog’s food is COVERED with ants, your pet will probably ingest the ants as part of his meal. For the most part, dogs can eat ants that are crawling around in their food without a problem.

If there are a lot of ants, your dog may refuse to go near his food. A lot of ants can cause problems for your pooch by biting him or triggering an allergic reaction. Your pup could also develop a stomachache by ingesting ants in large quantities.

Can Dogs Eat Ants?

Although dogs CAN eat ants, you may wonder why they would want to. If ants are crawling in your dog’s food dish, eating them seems like the simplest recourse as opposed to trying to eat around them.

Dogs eating ants is no stranger than people eating different kinds of insects – including ants – in many Asian, South American and African countries. All this to say that ants have nutritional value and won’t harm your pooch if he eats them, under normal circumstances.

Dogs, for the most part, are highly adaptable when it comes to their diet, with ants being optional. Aside from gobbling ants from their food dish, dogs may stop to scoop up ants on the ground when walking with their owners or trekking through the woods or on a romp in the park.

Why would your canine pet be interested in eating ants? One reason could be to fulfill his “hunter’s instinct,” i.e. his natural desire to hunt and eat prey.

One of the first things a dog does when turned loose outdoors is to sniff around to see what he can find.

A line of ants crawling on the ground or sidewalk is bound to attract your pup’s attention and his first reaction is to naturally snatch them up with his tongue, even if he’s not hungry.

Hunting small creatures – even creatures as small as ants – is a part of a dog’s instinctive nature. Ants are, after all, a nutritious food source, providing your pup with protein, antioxidants and other nutrients that are good for his body.

What Will Happen If My Dog Eats Ants?

Unless your dog ingests a large quantity of ants, which isn’t likely, chances are not much will happen if he eats ants from his food dish or an outside source.

In rare instances, dogs may be allergic to ants and have a reaction after consuming them. This reaction could be in the form of a rash, which may be mild or severe, depending on the dog. No two dogs are exactly alike when it comes to allergy symptoms.

Your pup could also develop a stomachache from eating ants, although, again, this is rare. It all depends on the number of ants he ingests, which would have to be a sizeable amount to produce tummy upset symptoms.

In general, eating a few classic black ants isn’t going to have a negative effect on a dog, unless the ants start biting his mouth or tongue, which can happen if he tries to ingest a large number at one time.

Fire ants, however, are a different story. Fire ants can be dangerous to a dog as they will attack if your pooch tries to scoop them into his mouth. If your pet’s food dish has fire ants, throw it out right away.

Then check his dog food bag to see if fire ants have invaded it as well. Don’t try to save dog food that has been invaded by fire ants as it can risk the safety and health of your pup. Fire ant bites can be especially harmful for small dog breeds due to their petite size.

Can Ants Be Poisonous To Dogs When Eaten?

Fire ants are hazardous to a dog’s health as they release venom into its skin when they bite. This venom can trigger a severe allergic reaction in your pet. Some dogs may only develop itchy, red skin as a result of fire ant bites.

In other dogs, these bites can cause severe pain or lead to digestive or respiratory problems. Ant bites on your dog’s nose can cause intense swelling that can interfere with its breathing.

Dogs are inquisitive creatures, often sticking their noses where they don’t belong. Sniffing or stepping on a fire ant mound could cost your pup dearly. An anaphylactic reaction to fire ant bites can weaken your pup to the point of collapse.

Your pup may start vomiting, experience inflammation and pain in the area bitten or break out into hives. Multiple bites on your dog’s feet could result in lameness.

Like most ant colonies, a fire ant mound may contain thousands, if not millions, of these venomous creatures. If a large number of these ants attack your dog, he could become severely ill.

A small dog may even succumb to a full-scale attack by these insects, especially senior dogs whose immune systems aren’t that strong. If your pup shows signs of an anaphylactic reaction to fire ant bites, contact your vet right away.

It’s better to err on the safe side when dealing with ant bites than be too late in seeking life-saving treatment.


Can dogs eat ants safely? Classic black ants, yes. In small numbers, these ants will only enrich your dog’s diet. Fire ants, however, should be avoided at all costs as their venom can cause your dog serious harm. If you have fire ants on your property, it would be best to get rid of them as quickly as possible to protect the health and safety of your pup.