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Ant Bites on Dogs: Signs, Treatment, and Prevention

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

Cocker Spaniel

Dogs are amazing animals, but just like us and other pets, they are also vulnerable to insect bites. Ants are one of the most common enemies of dogs. Ants are common in the outdoors but can also be found indoors, especially if there are loose foods around the house.

An ant bite can cause irritation and severe effects on your dog. Therefore, if you plan on having a poochie, or if you already have one, knowledge about an ant bite’s signs, the treatment, and prevention comes in handy. If you notice ant bites on your dog, wash the wounds, watch your dog for symptoms, and contact your veterinarian.

But it’s worth noting that not all types of ants are dangerous to your dog. Therefore, you should familiarize yourself with the kind of ants you should be scared of your dog once you notice them in your home.

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Which Type of Ants Are Dangerous for Dogs?

There are many species of the ant family. Most of these species are harmless to your dogs. However, you should be wary of the following ant species around your home, especially if you own a poochie.

Fire Ants

Fire Ants
Image Credit: Lilakaugummi, Pixabay

Fire ants originated from South Africa and are identified by their brown color. Fire ants are similar to house ants in that they both have two nodes on their petioles and two-segmented antennal clubs. A fire ant colony consists of over a thousand workers, with each worker being an eighth or a quarter-inch tall.

Fire ants are the most dangerous type of ant species to your dogs. And why? Because they produce venom that causes anaphylaxis reaction in pets, including dogs, once they bite them. The fire ant venom is made of 95% water-insoluble alkaloid.

The alkaloid in the fire ant venom consists of piperidine, which is responsible for pain. Alkaloids also produce pustules which result in inflammation in case of a fire ant sting.

Carpenter Ants

Carpenter Ant
Image Credit: amwest97, Pixabay

If you live in a wooden home, then you may have encountered a carpenter ant. Carpenter ants are black and chew on wooden items.

Carpenter ants rarely bite unless they feel threatened. However, when they do, they cause severe pain and irritation to your dog.

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The 7 Signs of Ant Bites on Dogs:

You cannot treat a bite if you are unsure of its cause or origin. If an ant has bitten your dog, you will notice the following signs and symptoms:

1. Shaking and flicking of the leg

As dogs are often on their feet, the ants are more likely to attack the leg. Therefore, you will notice your puppy holding up its leg, and it keeps shaking and flicking it.

2. Constant licking and scratching a body part

Image Credit: rachanon-cumnonchai, Shutterstock

Ants do not only attack the legs. They climb up the body and can attack any part.

An ant bite causes discomfort to the bitten area. The dog responds by constantly licking, scratching, and chewing the affected area to shake off the pain.

3. Sores

As earlier established, a fire ant is the most dangerous ant species to your dog. Therefore, if it attacks your dog, you may notice a greyish sore in the attacked area.

4. Anaphylaxic reaction

Anaphylaxis refers to a life-threatening allergic reaction in your dog. Different ant species cause different reactions when they bite a pet.

For instance, if your dog is allergic, a bite from a fire ant could trigger an anaphylaxic reaction. Therefore, you will notice vomiting, collapsing, and pale gums, to mention a few.

5. Difficulties in breathing

dog breathing heavily
Image Credit: photosforyou, Pixabay

The fire ant venom could cause your dog to develop difficulties in breathing.

6. Impaired mobility

Dogs are naturally active. You may be used to your dog jumping around in your house and the backyard. Therefore, once you notice that your pup is experiencing difficulties moving around, chances could be that it has been bitten by an ant, more so a fire ant.

7. Pain and swelling

If you notice a swelling and constant whimpering, yelping, and growling, your dog could be in pain from an ant bite.

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How To Treat Ant Bites On Dogs

Blue Merle Border Collie laying on the grass
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

Once you notice the above signs and ascertain that it is an ant bite, the next course of action is treatment. If you are not sure how to go about it, the following is a step-by-step guide on how to treat ant bites on dogs.

Stop the attack

Ants move in groups. Therefore, your puppy is likely to be attacked by more than one ant. So, the first thing you should do is to stop the attack. And this involves taking the pet to a secure area.

Due to the attack by a large number of ants, you may be tempted to bathe your pet to drown the ants. However, this will make the ants feel threatened; therefore, they bite even more. Besides, this will end up causing more pain and irritation to the canine.

So, once you realize that the ants have spread to other parts of the dog’s body, you should brush off the dog’s fur to rid of the ants. Remember to be gentle while doing this to avoid causing more injuries.

Additionally, as you stop the attack, you should wear protective gloves to avoid transferring the ant attack to yourself.

Tend to the wounds

Once you are sure that you have eliminated all the ants from your puppy’s body, the next step is to tend to the wounds. This can be done by washing the wounds with an antibacterial soap to kill any germs present.

Image Credit: Yekatseryna Netuk, Shutterstock

You can then apply baking soda to the wounds to relieve pain and swelling. In case you realize that the dog is in a lot of pain, you could use ice instead of baking soda.

Keep an eye on the dog

After performing the above first aid on your dog, you should keep monitoring it. It’s not unusual for some symptoms, such as the anaphylaxis reaction, to take longer to develop, especially if your puppy was bit by a fire ant.

Visit a vet

Your pet’s good health should be your top priority. So if upon monitoring your dog, you notice that it’s in a lot of pain and your attempts to relieve the pain are unyielding, or if it develops impaired mobility, difficulty in breathing, and vomiting, to mention a few, then you should seek medical assistance.

Visit a veterinary doctor who can help observe your dog, make an informed diagnosis, and recommend the best treatment to save your pup’s life.

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How To Prevent Ant Bites On Your Dog

english bulldog sitting on grass
Image Credit: BLACK17BG, Pixabay

Better safe than sorry. Therefore, to avoid the struggle of treating your dog for ant bites and exposing it to pain and life-threatening conditions, you should learn how to protect your dog from ant bites.

The following are the various ways of preventing ants from attacking your dog.

1. Apply Fipronil on your dog

Fipronil is an insecticide discovered in 1987. It was initially developed for pest control and is available as a spray, mainly for dogs and cats.

When it comes to ants, you can never be too cautious, especially if you live in a wooden home. The chances of having carpenter ants attack your poochie are high. Therefore, you could opt to spray your dog with Fipronil.

Therefore, when ants attack your dog, they will come into contact with Fipronil, which prevents the uptake of chloride ions, causing excess neuronal stimulation and the ant’s death.

However, before applying Fipronil to your puppy, consult with a vet to ensure that your dog is not allergic to the insecticide. Additionally, if you have other pets such as rabbits, seek a vet’s counsel as the pesticide may be dangerous to them.

2. Keep your dog indoors

shih tzu puppy sitting on a couch
Image Credit: Pattarit S, Shutterstock

Ants are mostly found outdoors. Therefore, as much as you want your dog to be running around in your backyard, it is wise that they stay indoors. This will minimize the chances of your dog encountering a colony of ants on the outside.

3. Store Food Properly

Ants are often in a constant move in search of food. Therefore, ensure that you do not invite them inside your home.

You should ensure that you keep all food in tightly closed containers. Also, ensure that you get rid of any food crumbs on the floors, cabinets, and surfaces where your dog frequents. By doing so, you minimize the ants’ chances of having access inside your home and attacking your pet.

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An ant bite is often dangerous for your dog as it can result in adverse conditions such as anaphylaxic reactions. Therefore, you should prioritize your pup’s safety as it is a close companion.

Follow these tips to identify ant bites on your dog and learn how to treat an ant bite. More importantly, familiarize yourself with knowledge on how to prevent your dog from attacks from ants.

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