- Some ants rarely bite — In fact, most ant species only bite or sting when they’re provoked. Keeping your dog away from ant colonies is the best way to prevent bites.
- But, some ants are aggressive — Fire ants both bite and sting, and they’re aggressive and invasive throughout the southern United States.
- Prevention is key — The best way to stop ant bites on dogs is prevention. Treating your indoor and outdoor space with dog-safe pesticides is key.
Ant bites can be frustrating for people, and equally as such for our dogs. For some, they can even be dangerous. Unfortunately for dog owners in some areas, ant bites on dogs are an inevitable part of life. Keep reading to learn more about ant bites on dogs and what you can do to prevent them.
How common are ant bites on dogs?
There are thousands of species of ants all over the world, but most don’t pose a big risk to dogs. Some species though, like fire ants, can pose a serious problem to your dog. And, depending on where you live, they may be prevalent.
Recognizing ant bites on dogs
Ant bites can look like other insect bites, allergic reactions, and an array of other skin conditions. Here are the symptoms of ant bites on dogs and how to distinguish ant bites from other insects and wildlife bites.
Symptoms of ant bites on dogs
There are some subtle symptoms that your dog has been bit or stung by ants — there are also more serious symptoms that can indicate an anaphylactic reaction . Ranging from mild to severe, here are some symptoms of stings and ant bites on dogs.
- Vocalizing and whining. Dogs dealing with ant bites may try to tell you with various vocalizations.
- Chewing. Chewing, licking, or otherwise trying to relieve itchiness may be a sign that your dog has been bit or is being bitten by ants.
- Restlessness. Dogs that can’t seem to get comfortable may be experiencing irritation caused by multiple ant bites, or have ants actively biting them.
For dogs that are especially sensitive to the proteins found in certain insects, their reactions may be stronger.
- Hives and swelling. If dogs are experiencing a mild allergic reaction, they may have hives and swelling in the areas where ants have bitten them.
- Pale gums and vomiting. Dogs experiencing an insect bite reaction may have pale gums and vomit due to the bite.
- Respiratory distress. In more extreme cases, some dogs may have difficulty breathing or experience severe distress or anaphylactic shock .
Differentiating ant bites from other injuries
Ant bites can be singular and may look a lot like flea bites on dogs. With fire ants, which are a likely suspect in warmer climates, you may notice clusters of bites. Fire ants both bite and sting, and after a few days the area will develop into a white puss-filled sore. They tend to swarm and will climb up vertical spaces, like your dog’s legs, so look for clusters of bites around their paws and legs.
Are ant bites on dogs dangerous?
Ant bites on dogs can be irritating, but not always dangerous. Many ants won’t bite or sting unless provoked, but fire ants tend to be aggressive and are dangerous with painful bites and stings. For people and dogs alike, fatal allergic reactions to fire ants can take place, so it’s important to pay attention to the symptoms listed below and know the risks of repeated exposure.
Potential long-term health consequences
Many sensitivities and allergies develop over time with repeated exposure. For dogs, ant bites can lead to long-term health issues , like:
- Nasal allergies. Allergic rhinitis can develop over time with repeated ant bites. Veterinarians will diagnose this by looking for a specific type of white blood cell in your dog’s nasal discharge, a favorable response to antihistamines, and if symptoms disappear with lack of exposure.
- Chronic allergic bronchitis. Symptoms of chronic allergic bronchitis include a dry, hacking cough that happens when your dog is active. For some dogs, this is year-round, but for others, it might only happen during certain seasons, and your dog may need medication to control it.
- Eosinophilic Bronchopneumopathy . Also known as PIE syndrome, this condition is caused by allergens (like ant bites), viruses, and parasites. Veterinarians typically have a difficult time finding the specific cause, but flare-ups can be treated with steroids.
Treating ant bites on dogs
Treating your dog’s ant bites may be simple, but it can require specialized care depending on the situation. Keep reading to learn more about home remedies and when it’s time to visit the vet.
Home remedies for ant bites on dogs
For mild cases of ant bites, treatment may be as simple as giving your dog some good scratches and applying an ice pack to help relieve the itch until the inflammation dies down. Hydrocortisone anti-itch sprays may be an option for immediate relief, while anti-allergy chews can provide ongoing relief for pups that can’t seem to leave ant colonies alone.
When to see a vet
For more severe cases where your dog experiences respiratory issues, weakness, vomiting, or swelling, it’s time for a vet visit. Dogs may be experiencing a more severe reaction that won’t be resolved without medication and treatment.
🚨 If your dog is in acute distress and having trouble breathing, take them to an emergency vet hospital immediately.
Preventing ant bites on dogs
Preventing ant bites on dogs is mostly about being proactive in and around your home, and teaching your dog good manners when it comes to ant hills and colonies. Here are some tips for keeping your dog safe from ants.
Ant proof your home — Look for areas in the home where ants get in and seal them up. This can include around doors and window frames, or coming in on your clothing and shoes. Cleaning up sweets and foods can remove temptation from ants as well.
Train your dog to avoid ants — While you may not be able to train your dog to spot a nefarious fire ant hill, you can teach them commands, like “leave it,” that will prevent them from disturbing the colony.
Discourage ants from nesting in your yard — Pet-safe pesticides can help treat your yard and discourage ants from building their colony there. You can also use all-natural techniques if pesticides aren’t an option.
Leash your dog when they’re outside — Having control over where your dog roams, especially during the summertime, can allow you to prevent them from going to areas with known ant activity.
Ant bites on dogs are, at best, irritating. At worst though, ant bites can lead to serious health conditions for sensitive dogs and particularly aggressive ant breeds. It’s essential that dog parents be aware of what to look for and what to do if your dog has a severe reaction to ant bites.
Frequently asked questions
Can I give my dog Benadryl for fire ant bites?
Mild to severe allergic reactions can be treated with Benadryl. The dosage will depend on the size of your dog and should be administered with guidance from your veterinarian.
How can I prevent my dog from getting ant bites in the future?
To prevent your dog from getting ant bites in the future, you should avoid areas known to have ant infestations, use pet-safe insect repellents, and keep your dog’s living areas clean and free of food scraps that might attract ants. Regular grooming and wellness checks can also help identify and prevent potential infestations.
When should I consider seeking veterinary help if my dog has ant bites?
You should consider seeking veterinary help if your dog has ant bites when you notice severe swelling, difficulty breathing, excessive drooling or licking, or if the dog becomes lethargic or seems to be in pain. Also, if the ant bites don’t seem to be improving after a couple of days, it would be a good idea to consult with a veterinarian.
Can ant bites be dangerous or fatal for dogs?
Yes, ant bites can be dangerous for dogs as they may cause allergic reactions, pain, swelling, and discomfort. However, fatalities are quite rare and usually occur only if the dog is either very small, has a severe allergic reaction, or if it was attacked by a large number of ants.