Have you encountered weevils or other strange-looking bugs in your dog’s dry kibble? It is never a welcoming sight. This is not the same as insect protein dog food, which is a healthy, hypoallergenic eco food. Some of these pesky bugs in your dog food can cause allergic reactions and gastrointestinal upset. Read on to find out how to prevent bugs infestation and what you should do when you find bugs in fido's dinner.
Where do these bugs come from?
These pests can come from the outdoors. They travel into the house through the window, under door frames, and any cracks that will allow them entry. It can also come from the factory if they are not clean. Apart from the factory, storage facilities for pet food can be another source of bugs infestation.
Common bugs found in dry dog food
Canned dog food typically doesn't attract pests since the packaging is hermetically sealed, but dry dog food can quickly become home to several common pests.
1. Warehouse beetles
One of the most common pests found in both dog and cat food. As its name implies, warehouse beetle can be found in areas where dry food is stored - basements, cabinets, warehouses, garages, etc. They appear oval, dark brown, or black, and range in length from 3 to 5 mm.
It is important to take swift action to rid of them as soon as they are spotted. A female can lay up to 100 eggs in a food source, and the eggs typically hatch in about 6 days. They can spread quickly. The larvae will wreak havoc in your kitchen, chewing through most protective wrappings, including plastics and aluminum foil, and ruining dry food items.
The setae (hairs) on the body of the larvae can cause allergies and gastrointestinal irritation in young children and pets. Should you come across these bugs, your best course of action is to get rid of them as soon as possible.
Seal the infested bag of food and trash it immediately. Go through your pantry and get rid of any food items infested by these beetles. Use a strong vinegar and water solution to wipe down the shelves and an eco-friendly, all-natural insecticide spray like this Bio-X 3-in-1 Aerosol Spray (Insect Repellent + Disinfectant + Deodorizer) on corners and holes suspected to house these bugs. Never use a toxic, chemical disinfectant on and around food items. Finally, vacuum the whole area to further ensure that you have removed any beetles or eggs and dispose of the content in the vacuum bag.
2. Copra beetles
This is another common pest found in pet food. An adult beetle is about 4.5 - 5 mm in length. The upper surfaces of the body are shiny metallic bluish-green. They are commonly attracted to dried meats, fish, cheese, copra, and any foods high in protein, including your dog’s kibble.
Though copra beetles are not harmful if accidentally ingested by your dog, they are very destructive. The adults fly and can therefore easily disperse to new sources of food.
The best course of action is to throw out all infested foods and disinfect your pantry before placing new food items into the pantry.
Although they are not harmful to your dogs, ants are relentless and very annoying. The good news is, unlike the beetles, they do not break bags or enter closed containers. They will just take advantage of an open food bag.
Remember to always seal your dog food bag and place them in an airtight dog food container to avoid ants. If using a plastic container, best to choose one that is non-toxic. Stefanplast Premium Air Tight Food Container For Dogs & Cats is made with premium non-toxic plastic so it's safe to use for food.
4. Grain weevils
Grain weevil is an insect that feeds on cereal grains and is a pest that we commonly see in rice, wheat, barley, rye, and other grains. They are reddish-brown or black and can live up to three years and females can lay over 250 eggs in this time.
They are generally harmless to both humans and dogs, even if ingested, but they do cause significant damage to the food items in your pantry. The larvae of grain weevils develop within the grain kernels. As they develop, they will cause nearly destruction of the grains. Food items infested by grain weevils are also prone to fungus growth and these fungi can be harmful to both humans and dogs.
5. Flour weevils
Commonly seen in rice and flour. Flour Weevils have a lifespan of about a year and can lay up to 500 eggs in their life span. They are reddish-brown and similar to the grain weevils, they are harmless to you or your dogs but very destructive in your pantry. It is still best to remove any infested products and clean up the pantry.
6. Indian meal moth
If you see worms in your dog food, it’s most likely not worms but larvae of the Indian meal moth. These moths and their larvae feed on dry food, including dry dog food. The larvae will often leave telltale signs such as silk webbings around infested food sources. Take note that they can chew through plastic bags and cardboard, making any food items in your pantry a food target.
Indian meal moth and their larvae are harmless even when ingested. They do not spread diseases, but they are not a pretty sight. No one wants to see insects or “worms” in their dog food!
Remove and throw away infested dog food, clean and disinfect the whole area. Because moths can travel easily, do look around your kitchen to see if there are other signs of infestation. Common telltale signs are silk-like cocoons.
Ways to prevent future infestation
1. For all online purchases, check the bag of dog food upon receiving it. If you find tiny holes in the packaging or other evidence of pests, immediately, return the product to the store where it was purchased from.
2. Store your bag of dog kibble in a proper storage container. These airtight containers are usually made from metal or thick plastic which cannot be easily breached by beetles. Sanitize your storage container regularly, clean it before putting in a new bag of food.
3. Don't stockpile your dog food. The longer your dog food sits around your home, the more likely it is to become infested. Always store pet food in a dry area. Moist areas allow mold and bacteria to grow.
Never use chemical pesticides on or around dog foods. These chemicals are harmful to dogs if ingested. Use natural deterrents like herbs and diatomaceous earth. Place bay leaves around the storage area OR sprinkle on a thin coating of food-grade diatomaceous earth on the shelves before placing your dog food bags. Diatomaceous earth is a very fine rock powder. It is chemical-free and it works by drying out the insect’s body at every stage of life, thereby killing them. You can easily vacuum off the diatomaceous earth.
Use only food-grade diatomaceous earth and not the gardening variety. DENutrients 100% Food Grade Diatomaceous Earth For Dogs & Cats is 100% food-grade and organic. It’s safe even when ingested by your pets.
4. Clean up after your dog is done eating. Leftover food will attract ants and other pests. Discard leftover food and mop any food stains from the floor with the Bio-Home Pet Safe Lemongrass And Green Tea Floor Cleaner For Home. Bio-Home does not contain any harsh chemicals or toxic ingredients and it is safe for pets and even babies.
Finally, wash your doggy’s food bowl with soap and water. Rinse well to remove any residue of soap from your dog’s bowl. If using a plastic bowl, do ensure that there are no scratches on the surface of the bowl. Constant scrubbing to remove food stains can result in small scratches. Over time, these tiny scratches can trap and hold bacteria, and leach BPA into your pet's food. You can consider a stainless steel bowl like this FuzzYard Dreamtime Koalas Dog Feeding Bowl it’s easy to clean and 100% BPA free.
5. Previous infestations can leave behind survivors. Even if you think you’ve eradicated the population, there may be some survivors that are waiting for an opportune time to start spreading again. Check constantly, look for infestation signs, and always use a natural deterrent around the storage areas.
Preventing insect infestation is much easier than trying to get rid of them once they show up. If they do show up, take immediate action to get rid of these pesky bugs before the situation becomes exponentially worse.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and has been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.