So, you need to get rid of bugs in your dog food.
In this article, we’ll cover:
- Common bugs found in dog food (weevils)
- How to get rid of beetles, worms, ants, etc.
- Ways to protect your dog food from pests
- How to store dog food
- And more
You’ll have everything you need to know by the end of this page.
Sound good? Let’s never deal with pests in Fido’s bowl again.
Do bugs eat dog food?
Yes, bugs eat dog food.
The food you buy for your dog has a lot of nutrients, vitamins, carbs, and protein which attracts a host of pests like beetles, weevils, and flies.
Most bugs will eat and deposit eggs in both dry and wet dog food, so it’s extremely critical that you store the food properly.
This is the only possible way to protect it from pests that are practical.
Why does dry dog food get bugs?
The bugs are after the variety of proteins, sugars, and other nutrients found in the dry, processed dog food.
Think about it:
If you left cookies out overnight, wouldn’t it attract bugs?
How about crackers?
All of those are “dry” and are loaded with carbs and other essential nutrients. Dog food is no exception.
Bugs don’t even recognize food as “human” or “dog” food- they just see it as food that’s edible and has the stuff they need to survive.
What are the bugs in my dog food?
There are many different bugs that’ll eat dog food depending on what species are native to your area.
Common pests include beetles, worms, flies, weevils, and ants. You may see varying bugs that change with the season and temperatures.
Where do the bugs in dog food come from?
Worms and maggots come from flying pests, such as Indian meal moths. Beetles and weevils are also common and come from outdoors or directly from an infested bag.
There are two main entry points for these pests.
If your kitchen, basement, garage, or wherever you store your dog food isn’t completely secure, this allows outdoor bugs to infest the bag.
Most people keep their dog food in the kitchen or basement, which are rarely completely safe from outdoor bugs!
Things like cracks in patio doors, windows, under door frames, and even within the home’s foundation are all entry points.
Sometimes pests can make their way to your kitchen through the screen windows!
Unless your kitchen is completely secure, there’s no real way to prevent bugs from eating your dog food.
From the factory
Yes, dog food factories can be a source of pests as they’re not always 100% clean.
You may also see flour weevils, warehouse beetles, and more.
Because there are hundreds of dog food brands, it’s difficult to assess which are clean or dirty. Even third-parties that are storage facilities for pet food can be a source of pests before it reaches the consumer (you).
Common bugs found in dog food
The most common pests you’ll find eating your dog’s food are copra beetles, pantry moths, drugstore beetles, ants, grain weevils, flour weevils, worms, and other flying pests.
We’ll cover how to get rid of each other using at-home remedies so you can restore your dog’s appetite.
Though, he probably doesn’t mind munching on a few bugs here and there (rarely do bugs harm your dog from being eaten).
Copra beetles in dog food
Copra beetles are a prevalent pest that’s often found in dry pet food.
They’re also known as the Red-Legged Ham Beetle or just Ham Beetle.
They attack both dog and cat food and are also found in small animal feed. The copra beetle is also called the red-legged ham beetle and has a distinct metallic blue appearance.
They’re about 3-7mm in length and are usually blue, green, or any other combination of the two.
They have two antennae that are distinguishable from the rest of the body. There are also 3 segments: the abdomen, thorax, and head. Copra beetles have 6 limbs that are tan or black in color.
Copra beetles are a lot larger than carpet beetles and a bit larger than cigarette beetles, both of which are common household beetles you may have seen, for comparison’s sake.
You’ll often find these beetles in your dog food deep under the top surface. They may migrate from your pet food to other kitchen edibles like dried meats, fish meal, bone meal, crackers, and dog treats.
These pests are difficult to control as they have a hard and protective shell to defend against predators.
They also like to use the food they eat as a cover from attack. Because of their exoskeleton, they’re hard to squish and are resistant to being squished and other predators.
How to get rid of copra beetles
The best way to get rid of these beetles is to simply dispose of the product. Since these beetles are so hard to kill and control, you may better off just buying a new pack of dog food and practice good storage measures.
The beetles breed, lay eggs, and will also migrate to other nearby food sources.
You’ll want to get rid of them ASAP and treating your dog food with chemicals or even DIY sprays may not be safe for your dog.
Thus, you should use the best course of action and eat the cost of the food. Next time, store the food correctly to prevent carpet beetles!
If you really want to save the food, you can try to manually remove the pesky beetles if the infestation isn’t huge.
But this really isn’t practical because they lay eggs and also are very difficult to fully eradicate.
Use a plastic bag and sunlight
You can use sunlight by placing your dog food outdoors on a hot day. Get a plastic trash bag and fill it up with the infested dog food. Spread out the food so it lays out into a single layer.
Then place the bag into the sunlight. The heat will kill the copra beetles if it gets hot enough. Because the oxygen levels are restricted, this blocks them from being able to receive the oxygen they need.
And the heat in the bag will eventually overheat them. Every single piece of kibble should be fully encased in sunlight. Leave it out for one whole day and collect it at night.
Don’t leave it out overnight. This will just allow bugs to deposit eggs or eat up the food.
Note that this method can easily spoil the food because of the sunlight. You should only use small portions that you plan to feed the next day.
Don’t use the entire bag or else you’ll spoil the entire thing. The point of this is to use the power of UV to kill or deter the bugs AND prevent other bugs from eating the dog food by using the plastic by sterilization.
Dog food should be kept dry and cold, so this will facilitate spoilage. You can do this before every meal in small batches as you work your way through the package of morsels.
Don’t use the whole package unless it’s the dog’s last meal from that pack.
Worms in dog food
Worms are the larvae form of moths.
This comes from various pets that have found their way to your bag of dog food, probably from outdoors or directly from the factory. Weevils are worms when they’re still larvae, but will spin a cocoon and emerge as a moth.
If you have worms, you probably also have moths.
The most common types found in dog food are grain weevils (sawtooth) or flour weevils. Both of these eat dry processed foods and dog food is usually high in vitamins and nutrients, so it’s no surprise they’re all over it (literally!).
Don’t underestimate weevils- they can eat up a bag of dog food faster than you can say “fetch!”
Thankfully, they’re not harmful. The worms you see are eventually going to turn into moths.
But for now, they’ll crawl around and feed on the food. Eventually, they’ll pupate in a dark corner somewhere or on the edge of your bag.
Have you ever opened a bag of old dog food and found remnants of cocoons all over the edges of the package? Those are weevils.
What causes worms in dog food?
The worms come from adult moths, such as pantry moths or Indian meal moths.
Sawtooth weevils and flour weevils are the larval form and are worm-like pests.
They also spin web-like threads that will be found all over the food. They can easily eat foods in your kitchen like rice, grains, pasta, oatmeal, and other dry grains.
There are over 60,000 different types and some are more “worm-like” than others. But most dog foods are definitely not safe from weevils, especially how the typical dog owner stores their food!
To get rid of the worms, you need to get rid of the adult moths.
Here’s a guide for eliminating pantry moths.
In essence, you’ll want to:
- Use sunlight to kill the worms only using batches you’ll feed that day
- Feed small proteins that have been sterilized from the sun
- Set up sticky traps around your kitchen to catch escapees
- Freeze the product for 3 days kills larvae
- Dispose of the remaining product that you can’t salvage or store
Grain mites in dog food
These are also considered “weevils” and are part of the same problem- pests!
Weevils are small pests. They’re hard to see because of size as the only span about 1/10 of an inch and are hiding in dry foods.
Other than dog food, you may find grain weevils in cereals, flour, oats, and other pantry foods. These bugs will quickly eat up a food source as they multiply rapidly.
An adult female lays a few hundred eggs each time and they can quickly reach sexual maturity to repeat the cycle.
Because weevils are small, this allows them to enter areas like food packaging, cereal boxes, and dog food bags.
Can grain weevils make dogs sick?
Grain mites are not harmful to dogs.
If your dog eats a grain weevil, they’re not known to harm the dog. These are no poisons, not toxic, and don’t bite or sting.
However, large quantities of weevils may cause some reactions in your dog depending on its size. Smaller dogs will react to eating weevils in a negative manner as it overwhelms their system. Larger dogs can handle a lot more.
But that doesn’t mean you should be feeding them food that has weevils as this encourages bacteria and fungus, which will harm your pet. So you need to get rid of the grain weevils quickly by disposing of the infested food.
Don’t try to save it. The eggs and hidden nymphs will just stick to the food bits. Throw it out and buy a new bag. But this time, use the proper dog food storage technique.
Grain weevil in dog treats
You may also find grain weevils in your dog treats.
This is no different than finding in your dog food. Since treats are dry and processed, they offer plentiful nutrition and carbs (sugar) for the weevils.
So it should be no surprise that they appear. They may also have entered from the outdoors or came from the food directly.
How do you get rid of weevils?
You can use the sunlight method (put small portions of the dog food/treats in the sun) to suffocate a lot of the weevils.
Sadly, there’s no way to completely get rid of them without altering the taste of the dog food. You should dispose of the remainder and make sure you practice safe storage methods for your next batch.
Here’s a post I wrote about managing weevils in food. You can apply the same practices to dog food.
These weevils are usually found in rice, powder, and flour. They are dark in color and look like tiny ants.
Each weevil is about half the size of a rice grain, so they’re pretty easy to spot especially against a white rice background. Each adult female has the capability of laying up to 500 eggs on average, so they’re no joke.
They start out and make their way into your home through infested products from the store. This can then allow these pests to find their way to your dog food.
Are weevils harmful to dogs?
Similar to grain beetles, they’re only going to just eat the dog kibble and nothing else. But they can still be a nuisance to see crawling all over your dog’s food.
I’d suggest just ignoring them as they’re harmless to both pets and humans. But if you have a lot of them, be sure to store your food securely next time. Remove as much of the weevils as you can.
You can also dump out the top layer of kibble, as they usually hang out right at the surface. Also, consider putting the dog kibble under the sunlight on a hot day.
This scares them off and can be a quick way to repel a bunch of weevils simultaneously.
Ants are a given. Any kind of food that is available to them will be eaten, especially sweets or carb-loaded dog food.
The common house ant is a pest that’ll form its ant trail to your dog food or treats and soon you’ll be seeing that familiar stream of ants.
You probably already have a bunch of DIY home remedies to get rid of them, but here are a few quick ones:
You can make your own quick and easy dish soap to kill ants at home.
Add 8 drops of Dawn dish soap to 1 cup of water. Give it a swirl and then use it to spray the ants. This will kill upon contact.
Of course, don’t get it into the dog food. Just use it to stop the trail of ants.
You can use a shop vac or standing vacuum to suck up any ants crawling out your dog’s food bowl. This makes it easy to control them and quickly get rid of the ant trail.
Keep the feeding area clean
After your dog eats, you should always clean up any mess and never leave food in the bowl overnight. Avoid free feeding when possible as it’s no good for dogs in my opinion.
You can wash the bowl after the night’s over and get all the sticky residue, buildup, and crumbs out of the bowl.
This will ensure that no viruses and bacteria build up in the bowl. This deters ants, beetles, and weevils from eating up your dog’s food bowl.
Make a dog bowl moat
You can buy or build your own DIY dog bowl moat.
Ants and many other pests can’t swim, so they’ll avoid the water and can’t get to your dog’s bowl.
You can use a shallow pie tin and put the bowl of food in the center. Then fill it up with water around the edges.
The water blocks and prevents any bugs from crossing over to the food. The pie tin should be a few sizes larger than your food bowl.
After you fill-up the outer bowl with water, ants will never be able to touch your dog food again!
This also works against many other pests. But doesn’t work on indoor flying pests like meal moths.
Will ants in dog food hurt the dog?
Ants aren’t harmful to your dog and many dogs will actually eat them naturally.
They actually have a bit of protein and vitamin C so they’re beneficial in small quantities.
You shouldn’t TRY to feed your dog ants, but there’s no need to be worried if it eats a few from its food.
Ants are not toxic and harmless to dogs in small quantities.
How do I keep bugs out of my dog’s water bowl?
The absolute best way to keep bugs away from your dog’s water bowl is to make a moat.
This will prevent many different pests from being able to reach the bowl such as ants, beetles, and spiders.
Flying pests such as moths and flies will still be able to eat drink the water, but the majority of crawling pests can’t.
Some bugs really like humid and moisture like silverfish, daddy long legs, and the common centipedes.
This is exactly why you should make a moat to keep them out!
Replace the water daily
Never leave the water out and let it go stale.
You can pour out the water left in the bowl and refill it every 24 hours. Give it to your indoor succulents or something.
Pour out all of the water, don’t just top it off. This is because concerneth topping off your dog’s water bowl will leave the sediments and impurities stuck at the bottom of the bowl.
You want to cycle it completely on a daily basis and wash it at the same time.
This will prevent many bacteria from developing.
Use stainless steel
This should be pretty obvious, but you should only use stainless steel or metal bowls.
Avoid plastic because plastic has microscopic holes that harbor bacteria. Plastic also contains harmful residues that may leech over time, especially if you feed your dog in the sun.
Always use stainless steel because there are no areas for bacteria to grow.
Wash the bowl frequently
You should always completely rinse the bowl every day.
This will help eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses that are growing slowly in the water.
You can also leave the bowl outdoors in the sun after you rinse it to kill any remaining bacteria. This will also eliminate the bowl from pests.
Avoid rubber bowl feet
Some stainless steel bowls have rubber feet for anti-skid measures.
Peel the rubber off as this just harbors a TON of bacteria. This will stink over time and also allow mold to grow.
You don’t want to use rubber or plastics near your food bowls. You can use steel or wood bowl holders as a replacement.
Elevate the bowls and make a moat
Since most pests are crawling on the floor, you can use an elevated food bowl holder to reduce the number of pests that have access.
A quick and easy solution that’s very effective is to use an elevated bowl holder that’s slightly larger than what you need. Use the two bowls that it comes with and buy two slightly smaller bowls.
Place the small bowls into the larger bowls.
And then fill the space between the bowls with water.
This will create an elevated moat and is extremely effective to keep bugs out. It’s one of my top tricks =]. Let me know if you try this out.
How do you keep bugs out of dog food?
There are some tips you can do at home to help safeguard your dog food. Here are the quick solutions.
Always keep it cool
You should never place your dog food in the sun or a hot area.
Avoid places that have hot air such as heaters or poorly ventilated areas. Keep the dog food under 26C.
Use airtight storage
You should always use an airtight storage container to store your dog food.
This ensures that food stays fresh and that pests can’t get into the container. Don’t use cheap plastic or regular food containers.
Use an airtight one that has a rubber seal around the lid.
Or has pressurized clips that snap onto the bottle. This will guarantee that no pests, no matter how small, can make their way to the stored contents.
Use glass or stainless steel containers because these prevent bacteria from growing.
They also help reduce the number of pests who are attracted to these microscopic flora that grow in the dog food.
Only store limited amounts
When you buy a new bag of dog food, don’t store all of it at once. Here’s a trick: only pour a good amount into the airtight container.
Then fold up the rest of it slowly to squeeze out all the air.
Roll up the top of the bag down and keep rolling down as the bag empties. Then turn the bag upside down and seal it on its own weight.
This will prevent any pests from getting into the bag and will also stop oxygen exchange to keep the food fresh. The next time your airtight container runs low, get more from the bag and transfer.
And repeat the process as needed. This is to prevent the constant exposure to air from the original bag.
Since this reduces the number of times you have to keep messing the original package, this means less oxygen exposure, which means the food will store better.
Use the airtight container as your primary quick access to dog food.
And save the bag for only when you need it. Minimize the constant exposure of the dog food to the air and you’ll preserve the quality of it much longer.
Don’t skimp and you’ll be surprised at how long your food lasts when stored like that.
Always use a little at a time and portion feed.
Freeze unused portions
You can freeze dog food if you don’t plan to use it for a long time.
This will only affect the texture depending on how long it’s been frozen.
However, if properly stored, there are no worries as frozen food retains its nutrient composition. Only the texture and flavor may change. For picky dogs, this may be a problem.
Here are some references you may find useful:
- 25 Pet Food Storage Tips – Homes Alive Pets Blog
- Tips on Proper Dog Food Storage – Pet Central
- Tips on How to Store Your Dog or Cat Food Properly | Hill’s Pet
Did you get rid of the bugs in your dog food?
By now, you should have a good foundation for eliminating, controlling, and managing pests in your dog food.
You should now be able to identify, kill, and prevent future bugs from eating up your puppy’s food.
Let me know if you have any questions by posting a comment.
Also, consider telling a friend if you found this page helpful =]!
Thanks for reading.
Currently an active researcher in the pest control industry for the past 8 years- with a focus on using natural and organic methods to eliminate pest problems.
I share handy DIY pest techniques I come across here to help out others (and possibly save them from a mental breakdown).
Fight nature with nature.