How to Keep Ants Out of Dog Food

If you’ve ever found a trail of ants leading to your dog’s food bowl, turning a simple meal into an insect buffet, you’re not alone, and it’s an annoying problem. 

This guide addresses why ants love your dogs’ food, why it’s important to address ant infestations, and tried-and-true tactics to keep those pesky ants at bay so your dog can dine in peace. These methods are curated from real-life scenarios, backed by expert advice, and using practical solutions.

Key Takeaways

Dry dog food’s nutrients and strong odor draw ants, while wet food provides both nutrients and moisture to ants.
Ants carry pathogens, risking your dog’s health. Prevention involves being mindful of food types, changing feeding spots, and understanding the significance of cleanliness.
Water moats around bowls, food-grade diatomaceous earth, ant-proof bowls, and regular cleaning are natural, safe methods to deter ants. These tactics prioritize your dog’s safety.
Store dog food in airtight containers prevent ant entry and contain food scents. Regular cleaning and maintaining cleanliness around the container area enhance protection.

Why Dog Food Attracts Ants

In all its flavorful glory, dog food is a magnet for our tiny six-legged invaders. 

Dry Dog Food

Ants are attracted to dry dog food primarily because it provides a readily available source of nutrition for them. Dry dog food contains carbohydrates, proteins, fats, and other nutrients that ants need and like.

Dry dog food has a strong odor that can attract ants from a distance. Additionally, small food particles or crumbs left behind when feeding pets can be attractive to ants.

Puppy Eating Dog Food Out of a Messy Bowl

Wet Dog Food

The wet varieties release a scent that, to ants, is like a siren song calling them to a feast. This aroma, rich in proteins and other nutrients, makes them dash towards the bowl in a mini stampede, returning multiple times to bring food back to their colony.

If you have an ant problem, wet food is more than just a protein boost for your canine friends. These ants that have started visiting your dog’s food bowl bring along with them the risk of contamination. A trail of ants in a dog food bowl can quickly turn that nutritious meal into a potential health hazard.

By understanding the dog food’s susceptibility to ant invasions, you’re better equipped to prevent them.

Solving this problem takes a few steps. First and foremost, be aware of the type of dog food you’re using. Due to its moisture-laden texture, wet dog food resembles a gourmet buffet for ants. On the other hand, dry kibble has a fighting chance, especially if stored properly. 

The Dangers of Ants Getting into Dog Food

But what happens when those pesky ants make their way to the bowl? It’s not just scooping out the affected food and calling it a day. The ramifications can go beyond just wasted food. 

Some ants are notorious for carrying pathogens. When your dog consumes food that these ants have crawled all over, it could ingest these harmful pathogens, leading to potential digestive issues. 

They can also contribute to allergies, and if your dog has a weakened immune system, they could be more susceptible to illness from ants. 

Dog Food Overflowing from Yellow and Red Bowls

Prevention Is Key

You can consistently check and maintain cleanliness around the feeding area to ward off most ant invasions. And if you’ve already had the misfortune of an ant party at your dog’s food spot, consider a location change. A temporary shift in the feeding spot can often break the ant’s trail, ensuring your pup enjoys its meal, minus the uninvited guests.

Foolproof Ways to Deter Ants from Dog Bowls

Resorting to traditional ant repellents might seem like the quick solution, but it’s essential to remember these can harm our furry companions. Chemicals that deter ants can cause allergic reactions, gastrointestinal upset, or other health problems in dogs.


One of the most effective natural barriers against ants is water. You create an ant-deterring moat by placing your dog’s bowl inside a larger dish filled with water. It’s simple physics: ants can’t swim. As they approach the food bowl, they’re met with a water barrier they cannot cross, keeping the food safe from their tiny, intrusive legs.

Diatomaceous Earth

Diatomaceous Earth (DE), a naturally occurring sedimentary rock, can be a godsend. Finely powdered, it can be sprinkled around your dog’s food bowl. Safe for dogs, it’s lethal for ants as it dehydrates them. But, for added safety, always opt for food-grade diatomaceous earth.

Special Food Bowls

Moreover, the market now offers ant-proof bowls specially crafted to deter ants. With their unique designs, they ensure your pet’s food remains pristine. While they might be a tad more expensive, their peace of mind is well worth the investment.

Keep it Clean

Even though it may look like your dog has licked their dog bowl clean, there are no doubt still food particles sticking around.

Ants can and will find these particles. Once an ant finds food particles, it will eventually return for more, usually with other members of its colony.

After each meal, wash the food bowl with soap and water. Then dry it and put it back where it belongs.

Keeping Ants Out of Stored Dog Food

Use Airtight Containers

Start by getting your dog food out of the bag and into a storage container. A large rubbermaid storage container will do. These containers come in various shapes and sizes so you should have no issues finding one that fits wherever you want to keep it.

The container should be airtight. This serves two purposes.

First is that if air is able to get in, that means there’s gaps. And even tiny gaps can be big enough to let ants in.

Second is that these gaps mean that the scent of dog food can get out. This will let any ants passing by to catch a whiff and round up their friends to come get a snack.

Cleaning your Container

Since there is little risk of ants getting into the container, keep the outside clean as best you can. 

Clean up any kibbles you may have spilled while scooping food. 

Wipe down the outside regularly especially if you see any sort of dust or dirt.

Keep the area around the container clean as well. If you keep it on the floor, sweep and mop the floor regularly. If you keep it in a cabinet, wipe down the cabinet.

Tailoring Your Ant Prevention Strategy

If there’s one thing experience teaches us, it’s that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to most problems. And when it comes to ants, this is particularly true. Depending on the layout of your home, the type of ants you’re dealing with, and their points of entry, you might need to adjust your ant-prevention strategy.

Start With Observation

Over a day or two, note where ants enter your home and their general path. This will give you a solid understanding of their behavior, allowing you to tailor your prevention methods accordingly.

Natural Repellents Can Be a Game-Changer

  • Lemon juice: can disrupt ants’ scent trails, making it hard for them to find their way. 
  • Essential oils like peppermint deter ants and give your home a refreshing scent. 
  • Cinnamon is a great choice for persistent ants, just sprinkle a line where they walk; they hate crossing it.

Time of Day 

Some ants are more active during certain hours. If you notice a pattern, you can adjust your dog’s feeding schedule slightly to avoid peak ant activity times.

In essence, it’s about being proactive and adjusting your strategy to the specific challenges your home presents. With a bit of observation and a tailored approach, those pesky ants don’t stand a chance.


Every pet owner knows the joy of seeing their dog enjoy a meal, but ants can ruin that. They also contaminate our pet’s home, and it becomes a reflection of the environment we provide for our beloved pets. 

By putting in the effort to deter ants, we’re not just maintaining cleanliness; we’re affirming our commitment to the well-being of our canine pals. With the strategies you’ve gleaned from this guide, mealtime can once again be a peaceful affair, free from the interference of unwanted six-legged guests.

If things don’t clear up immediately, remember, there’s no shame in seeking reinforcements. Whether turning to pest control professionals or a trusted veterinarian, ensure you tap into all available resources. Your dog’s comfort and health are paramount, so don’t wait. Take action and reclaim your pet’s dining space today!

Photo of author
Sean is the founder of Conquer Critters. With more than 17 years of experience in dealing with various pests, he is passionate about spreading his knowledge to help everyone manage their pest problem in the fastest, most effective manor possible.

6 thoughts on “How to Keep Ants Out of Dog Food”

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