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Will Dog Food Attract Roaches? Risks & Tips for Prevention

Kit Copson

By Kit Copson

a cockroach on leftover dog food in a bowl

Dry dog food is appreciated by dog parents everywhere for its convenience, but unfortunately, dogs aren’t the only ones with a thing for tasty kibble. Whether you’re feeding dry or wet food, if you’re leaving it out for long periods, you run the risk of attracting cockroaches and other critters. Dry food is especially vulnerable because it tends to get left out for longer than wet food.

In this post, we’ll explain why cockroaches are attracted to dog food and share some tips on how to keep your dog’s dinner bowl roach-free.

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Why Are Cockroaches Attracted to Dog Food?

When it comes to finding food, cockroaches aren’t picky at the best of times, but for them, dog food is pretty much haute cuisine. For one thing, it’s packed with protein which helps them to grow. In fact, entomologists raising cockroaches for research purposes often feed them dry dog food to keep them in good form.

In addition to this, dog food is often easily accessible because some dog owners leave it out for long periods of time, for example, overnight or while they’re out at work. Leaving food out unattended for a long time lets roaches get into it and feast at their leisure, so it’s always a good idea to only feed at specific times.

Cockroach crawling on the wall
Image Credit: 1113990, Pixabay

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How Can I Keep Cockroaches Out of My Dog’s Food?

Don’t worry—all hope is not lost. There are a few simple measures you can take to keep your home and outdoor area as roach-free as possible.

1. Feed on a Schedule

Instead of leaving food out all day or night for your dog to pick at whenever they fancy, get them used to eating on a schedule. One way to do this is to halve your dog’s usual portion and feed half in the morning and the other half in the evening, for example. Avoid putting any food out for your dog at any time that is not a set mealtime.

If you’ve previously spotted roaches making their way to your dog’s bowl, stay close to your dog while they eat so you can monitor the situation and prevent roaches from reaching their target if necessary.

2. Clean Up After Mealtimes

When your dog is done with their food, get rid of any spilled food, sanitize the area, and store any remaining food away for later. If you feed wet food, either put leftovers back in the fridge until the next feeding session or throw it out if it’s already been out for a while to avoid it congealing.

dry dog food in bowl and on wooden table
Image Credit: 279photo Studio, Shutterstock

3. Store Food Properly

Many brands sell dry dog food in zip-lockable bags, so try and go for one of these brands for easier storage. If your dog’s food does not come in a sealable bag, you might want to pop it into store-bought zip lock bags or store it in an airtight container to keep it fresh. Store both dry and unopened wet food in a cool, dry, and secure place.

When it comes to wet food that’s already open, consider investing in dog food can lids to help keep it fresh in the fridge between mealtimes.

4. Call in a Pro

If you’ve established that roaches are already finding their way into your home, your best bet may be to contact a pest management professional. When the offenders have been eliminated from your home (and your dog’s bowl), you can then start fresh with feeding schedules, area cleanups, and appropriate food storage if you haven’t already.

cleaning the floor
Image By: Andrew Angelov, Shutterstock

Are Cockroaches Toxic to Dogs?

Luckily, cockroaches are not toxic to dogs even if they eat one—gross as that is. On the other hand, roaches do carry diseases and parasites that they can transmit to your dog, so they certainly should not be allowed to eat them. Dogs are curious, though, and may very well eat some kind of creepy crawly when your back is turned just because it attracted their interest.

It’s unlikely that a single cockroach will cause serious harm as a dog’s digestive system is typically well-equipped to handle the situation. However, if you suspect that your dog has eaten a cockroach and they’re showing symptoms like vomiting, lethargy, diarrhea, and appetite loss, or they just generally appear unwell, please contact your vet right away.

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Final Thoughts

It can be very disheartening and even frightening to find cockroaches or other insects taking a shine to your dog’s food. Try not to panic and give our tips for keeping cockroaches away from your dog’s bowl a go, like feeding on a schedule, keeping feeding areas spick and span, and correctly storing food. In some cases, you might need to call in a professional to take care of business.

Featured Image Credit: Thipwan, Shutterstock

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