What to do if a dog eats ant killer?

Some dogs eat just about anything, including ant killer in bait traps. Pet owners should know who to call and what to do when Fido may have poisoned himself. A quick response may save your pet's life, but depending on the chemical involved, home remedies may be all you need.

Emergency Care

The quickest way to learn what a dog has ingested is to read the box it came in. Arsenic is a deadly poison and requires immediate treatment. However, most ant baits do not contain arsenic. Usually they contain sugary syrup (which is what attracts dogs to them) and either boric acid or avermectin, chemicals that are not toxic in small amounts.

Boric acid is mineral-based, but a large dose of 5 grams could be fatal to a pet. Avermectin is also used externally and internally for dogs to kill fleas and parasites. The greater concern when ant bait traps are eaten is relative to the amount of plastic ingested by dogs; sharp slivers may cause serious problems in a canine digestive tract.

When a dog has got into ant killer sprays or powders, immediately wash any contamination off the animal's paws. If the poison is NOT a caustic chemical, such as cleaners, drain openers or petroleum products, vomiting may be recommended, especially if it has been less than two hours since the poison was ingested. A dog can be made to vomit by giving ipecacuanha syrup, 1 tsp per 4.54kg. of body weight, or hydrogen peroxide, 1 to 3 tsp every 10 minutes times three doses, or by gagging them with 1/2 to 1 tsp of salt on the back of the tongue.

If the chemical is caustic, it may cause severe burns, ulcers and bloody diarrhoea. In that case, vomiting it back through the throat will only make the problem worse. Give the dog fluids, water or milk to dilute the poison, and get emergency treatment. A veterinarian will be able to suction the stomach contents out through a tube.

Expert Help

To get expert help about poisons, call the number on the insecticide wrapper. Most manufacturers have hotlines that are staffed around-the-clock with operators who are extremely knowledgeable about the ingredients in the product. Local Poison Control Centers for humans are often able to answer questions from pet owners, too. The ASPCA has a poison control number for animal emergencies: 888-426-4435. There is a fee for the call.

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