Ants are no joke! Whether you live in a rural setting, suburbia, or a dense city, these pests will find a way to invade your home! These insects are prominent around the world and constantly search for food sources to snack on. If you have a dog, you also have a natural ant attractant!
Dog food is naturally aromatic, making it a magnet for ants. Even the most vigilant dog owner might have to deal with ant invasions every once in a while.
Not only can they infiltrate your dog food bag, but they can also make their way to Fido's bowl!
It's important to address ant problems as soon as they appear. Dogs don't know any better. They may attempt to eat the food regardless of the infestation, leading to painful bites and potential stomach problems. If the problem persists, ants can impact the level of trust your dog has in their meals.
Fortunately, there are many ways to deal with infestations and keep ants away from dog food. The key is to outsmart these pests and beat them at their own game! Here are some tried and true ant control methods you can try today.
#1. Keep Dog Food in an Airtight Container
This might seem like a given, but you'd be surprised by how resilient ants can be. Many dog owners think that a simple chip clip is enough to keep the food bag closed. While a clip does a lot to keep larger pests out, ants are a little more determined.
Dog food is fragrant enough to attract ants even when you don't think you have any. Every time you open the bag up, you're letting some more of that aroma waft into your home.
It's like sending up a beacon for ants to find! Even when it's closed, the smell may permeate throughout the room.
Airtight containers serve a couple of different purposes. First, they keep the smells contained! Secondly, they can prevent ants from getting in.
Choose a large container with a rubber seal. No matter how hard ants try, they'll have no way to get in.
Make sure you use a food-safe container to keep things clean. Also, keep using the bag! Put the entire dog food bag into the container. That way, you can rest easy knowing that the food is safe and fresh while still taking advantage of the perks that come with a new container.
#2. Clean the Bowl Daily
When was the last time you washed your dog's bowl? If you're like most owners, you might be too ashamed to say it out loud!
Don't be too hard on yourself. Most people don't give it a second thought. Many assume that because dog food is dry, it doesn't leave behind any residue. Unfortunately, that's not the case.
Kibble can leave behind small crumbs. Those tiny morsels are perfect for ants to gobble up or take back to the nest. If you're leaving crumbs behind every day, you're basically training the ants to come.
Even worse is the oil residue!
Dry dog food has some fat content that contributes to its overall smell and flavor.
The fat is meant to make the food more enticing for your pooch, but the same goes for ants and other pests, too.
Clean the bowl every day. To make things easier, choose a machine-safe bowl that you can pop into the dishwasher along with your own dishes!
Get used to that habit, and it'll become second nature.
#3. Vacuum Regularly
Like the bowl itself, the area around your dog's bowl is just asking for ants to come.
Most dogs are messy eaters. While you might not notice any crumbs left behind, they probably ended up throwing some onto the floor in the immediate area.
Sweep and vacuum the floor to ensure that there's nothing left behind to attract ants. Want to make things easier? Consider using a mat! A dog food mat will catch all the food remnants for easy cleaning.
#4. Remove Leftovers
Believe it or not, some dogs are a little pickier than others! Not every pooch will gobble down their meal the moment you put it in the bowl. If that's the case for your dog, be vigilant about cleaning up.
It's a good idea to leave the food for an hour or so. That should give your dog plenty of time to eat as much as they want. Toss out anything that's left behind.
The longer you let the food sit, the riskier it becomes. Ants move in pretty quickly, so you must stay on top of any leftovers your pup leaves behind.
#5. Use Cornstarch to Remove Existing Ants
If you're already dealing with ants, your options are pretty limited. Most assume that the only choice is to toss out the bag. Fortunately, there's one trick that you can use to remove the ants. It involves cornstarch!
Cornstarch is a safe and edible powder that's used in many human dishes. It may even be an ingredient in your dog's food, as it's sometimes used as a binder.
This powder can help to separate ants from the food. Needless to say, this only works on dry kibble!
Sprinkle the cornstarch over the food and work it in. You'll notice the starch accumulate around ants and on any fatty deposits on the kibble.
Now, put your food through a sieve and give it a good shake. Continue to shake the food as the ants fall through the sieve and into the garbage.
Once you think you've removed all of the ants, give the food a once-over with a brush. Examine it closely and get rid of any stray insects that didn't fall through.
This cleanup technique is not easy by any means. But if you're on a budget and don't want to toss out your pup's entire bag of food, it can be a real lifesaver.
#6. Make a Moat
Did you know that ants can't swim? They will quickly drown in even an inch or two of water! You can use this to your advantage by going medieval!
One of the easiest ways to prevent ants from infiltrating your dog's bowl is to create a shallow moat. Use a larger pan and fill it up with water.
Then, place the bowl in the center. The ants' only option is to try and cross the water moat. In doing so, they'll drown!
#7. Create a Physical Barrier
If you'd prefer to keep things dry, you have a couple of different options for creating a physical barrier. The goal here is to mark your dog's territory and create an impenetrable shield against the tiny ants.
The two go-to options for many dog owners are chalk and tape.
Chalk is a hit-or-miss technique, but it's worth a shot. The idea here is that the chalk powder is foreign and unpredictable for the ants. They'll avoid it out of fear and refuse to cross over.
If they do, the loose powder may get on the ants' leg and cause injuries, too.
The concept of tape is pretty self-explanatory. Use double-sided tape to literally stop the pests in their tracks! Using tape can be a bit tricky, as your dog might step on it, too. The good news is that your dog's interaction will be pretty innocent and easier to manage.
Also read: Is it Safe for Dogs to Eat Baby Food?
#8. Use Vaseline
Another excellent method of controlling ants is by using vaseline or petroleum jelly.
When ants make their way to your dog's bowl, they still have to climb in! By coating the sides with vaseline, you're creating an unclimbable surface.
The ants will either slip right off or get stuck in the clear gunk. Either way, they'll stay out of the food!
#9. Sprinkle the Area with Natural Powdered Deterrents
Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to resort to harsh chemicals to take care of ant infestations. Humans have been using all-natural items since the dawn of time! Many of those substances still work today.
There are a few courses of action you can take.
If you prefer to keep things fragrant, you can use pepper or cinnamon. These spices are super aromatic. They may deter the ants. However, they could also cause trouble if you have a sensitive dog.
Sprinkle these substances on the floor around the food bowl. Or, you can mix them with vaseline to keep them put.
Another option is to use something like borax or diatomaceous earth. Diatomaceous earth is available in a food-grade form. It's non-toxic and works to suffocate tiny insects like ants. The same goes for borax. Both are made from natural minerals, making them chemical-free and safe.
#10 Take Advantage of Essential Oils and Natural Sprays
Do you keep your dog's dishes on a smooth floor? If so, consider cleaning with a powerful essential oil.
Lemon or orange-based cleaners contain essential oils that might help keeps ants away. Like pepper and cinnamon, the scent is what holds power.
Clean the floors with essential oil-powered cleaners to create an invisible layer of ant protection.
You can even use essential oils to create powerful deterrent sprays. Citrus oils work wonders on ants. So does peppermint and tea tree oil! Simply dilute the oil with water and a splash of witch hazel.
Spray liberally around the area where your dog eats. It's also a good idea to apply some spray around entrances to ensure that ants don't come into your home at all!
Products That Can Keep Ants Away
As you can see, there are many great DIY methods out there that can help you win the battle against ants. But if you want to keep things easy, some unique products on the market can tackle this issue, too. Here are some of our favorites!
Iconic Pet Anti-Ant Stainless Steel Non-Skid Dog & Cat Bowl
At first glance, this bowl from Iconic Pet doesn't look like much. But when you get down to grown level, you'll notice that the sides don't touch the floor! This is a deliberate design choice that prevents ants from climbing into your dog's food bowl.
They can crawl on the walls of the inner base, which is anti-skid. But, they'll have to traverse some extreme lengths to make their way to the food.
Bell + Howell Ultrasonic Pest Repellers, 4 pack
Ultrasonic pest repellers like these are quite popular nowadays! They're a high-tech alternative to toxic sprays and chemical deterrents. Just plug them into the outlets nearest to your dog food bowl and containers.
The devices emit ultrasonic sound waves. They're out of the range of human hearing. But, small insects and rodents can hear them. The waves are uncomfortable, driving pests away without a single spray or powder!
Aunt Fannie's Ant Remedy Spray, 16.9-oz bottle
Aunt Fannie's Ant Remedy spray is an all-natural deterrent that uses essential oils. It's completely safe around kids and animals.
In fact, you probably won't even notice the spray is there. It doesn't have any harsh odors or chemicals. However, the subtle aroma of those oils will do a lot to keep ants out!
Give some of these tips and tricks a shot. Ants are a pretty serious issue you shouldn't take lightly. Once they find your dog's food, ants can become a chronic problem! It's best to address them early on and take the steps you need to ensure that infestations don't occur at all.