Dealing with ants in or around your home? Ants may not seem as bad as cockroaches or mice but some ants can damage your home and they can have a very painful bite. If you see one or two ants in your home, you can be sure more will follow as they leave pheromone trails for others in the colony to follow. The good news is there are several pet safe ant killers you can use to stop the problem without risking the health of your dog or cat.
The best pet safe ant killer is a tamper-proof bait like Terro ant killer bait stations or a product that contains an ingredient that isn’t harmful to pets like Advion Ant Gel. Ant killer sprays that are pet safe when they dry can also be used outdoors. Here’s how to get rid of ants without hurting your pets with an overview of the best products and guidelines for protecting your dog or cat.
Which Ant Killer Ingredients Are Safe for Pets?
Pesticides come in many forms ranging from natural, completely safe ingredients to chemicals that can be dangerous to humans and pets alike. When choosing an ant killer to use indoors or outdoors, it’s important to pay attention to the label to know what you’re applying around your home.
Let’s start by going over some ant killer active ingredients you should understand.
Ingredients Safe or generally safe for pets
- Diatomaceous earth. This natural ingredient is generally considered safe. Choose food-grade diatomaceous earth if you are going to use it around pets.
- Indoxacarb (ingestion should still be avoided). This unique ingredient is usually found in ant gels and it’s generally safe to mammals.
- Spinosad. This ingredient is often used to control fleas on pets and head lice in people. It’s also a common pesticide to treat ants and mosquitos. It has low toxicity to people and dogs, even when ingested.
- Imidacloprid. This is a common ingredient in flea and tick products for dogs and it’s generally safe although it shouldn’t be consumed. Cases of dog poisoning by imidacloprid are rare but it appears to be mostly a concern for sick or older dogs.
- Borax or boric acid (avoid ingestion). You don’t want your dog to eat borax, an ingredient found in many poisoned baits for pests like ants, but it generally isn’t harmful if swallowed in fairly small amounts. To be on the safe side, choose a gel or bait station with borax that can be put out of your pup’s reach rather than using borax powder.
Ingredients to avoid indoors
- Hydramethlynon. This ingredient is found in products like Amdro, ant bait granules for outdoor use. While it’s considered normally safe in mammals, oral ingestion by dogs can cause vomiting and gagging.
- Thiamethoxam. This chemical is less toxic to mammals like cats and dogs than it is to insects but it can still be dangerous if consumed.
- Bifenthrin. This is a naturally-occurring chemical that works like pyrethrin, a common ingredient in pest control. It’s found in ant sprays and granules. Even contact with the skin can cause numbness and itching but accidental ingestion can cause vomiting, headache, dizziness, nausea, and mouth ulcers.
Have you noticed ants trailing through your home in the bedroom or kitchen? Are ants invading the space under your kitchen sink or the trash? Here’s a look at what ant killer is pet friendly and effective enough to stop your ant problem for good.
Here Are the Best Pet Safe Ant Killers
1. Advion Gel Ant Gel (Indoors)
Advion ant gel bait is an awesome pet safe ant killer that’s as effective as it is pet friendly is While a bit on the expensive side, it’s easy to use in a way that protects your pets and kills the entire ant colony — not just the ants that walk through into your home.
The best thing about Advion Ant gel is its active ingredient: indoxacarb.
This is a pet-safe ingredient that’s still potent. It is often used by professional pest control technicians because it works against ants but doesn’t do much harm to mammals. It also works against all types of pest ants in your home including carpenter ants, little black ants, and fire ants.
When it’s consumed by ants, indoxacarb is converted into a more toxic compound that causes paralysis and death. Cats, dogs, and humans do not have the enzyme that ants use to break down food which converts indoxacarb to its more toxic form.
Indoxacarb is even used as an active ingredient in some flea treatments for dogs and there have been no studies showing adverse reactions.
Still, it’s a good idea to use indoxacarb gel where dogs and cats are unlikely to eat it.
2. Terro Ant Killer Bait Station (Indoors)
Terro Liquid Ant Baits are a great choice when you want to kill household ants without hurting your pets or leaving a mess. This ant killer comes in pre-filled bait stations that can be placed near ant trails or areas where you see a lot of ants.
The active ingredient in Terro ant killer is borax which isn’t the safest ingredient but isn’t the most toxic thing in the world.
When using borax around a home with pets, it’s important to keep a few guidelines in mind. It’s generally considered safe for humans and pets to touch borax. It just shouldn’t be consumed. When using Terro ant killer, place the bait stations in out-of-the-way areas where your curious dog won’t reach them. You may place them along the wall edge of your countertops, for example, or under the fridge.
Borax in Ant Killers
Borax — also known as sodium borate — is a common ingredient in ant killers. Powdered borax is a salt of boric acid that’s also found in detergents and cosmetics. Borax is used in ant bait because it interferes with the ants’ digestive systems and kills them slowly. This ingredient is popular because it takes long enough to work for worker ants to share the bait with the rest of the colony and the queen. After all, it isn’t enough to kill just the scouting ants — you want to destroy the entire colony because more will follow them.
Borax isn’t the most dangerous ingredient — but it isn’t something you want your dog eating, either. Boric acid and borax can cause serious symptoms in dogs that eat a toxic dose including:
- Excess salivation
- Loss of appetite
- Abdominal pain
With a large enough dose, your dog may even develop seizures, tremors, and ataxia. If your dog eats borax, they will usually develop symptoms within two hours.
The good news is borax and boric acid are really only toxic when consumed.
Both are considered low in toxicity when they’re applied to uninjured skin. Your dog or cat is unlikely to suffer any consequences from walking on Borax powder as long as they don’t eat it or it isn’t absorbed into a cut.
If your dog does manage to chew up or eat a Terro liquid bait station, they’re unlikely to consume enough borax to actually do any harm.
3. Natural Diatomaceous Earth (Indoors)
Diatomaceous Earth is a naturally occurring soft rock that’s crumbled into a very fine powder. Diatomaceous earth is often used as a form of natural pest control and it’s found in many natural ant killer products.
DE works as an abrasive: ants don’t actually need to consume it. As ants walk over diatomaceous earth, it strips oils from their exoskeleton and causes rapid dehydration or desiccation.
Diatomaceous earth is considered safe for dogs and people, although you still don’t want to eat it. Some people even rub it on their dog’s coat to naturally get rid of fleas and ticks, although that’s definitely not the most effective solution.
The only drawback? DE only kills the ants that crawl through it. They won’t take it back to the colony. Still, it’s a good defense to keep ants from entering your home or walking over your countertops.
Related Article: Diatomaceous Earth vs Bed Bugs
4. MDXconcepts Organic Pest Spray (Indoors)
Mighty Mint Ant Spray is made with the essential oil peppermint and 100 percent plant bases ingredients. While it isn’t great at killing ants, really, and it definitely won’t kill the colony, it can be great for keeping ants out of your home and disrupting their scent trails.
It can mask the ants’ scent trail which makes it hard for them to find food or send reinforcements to forage in your home. The sodium lauryl sulfate or SLS is a liquid soap that may help suffocate ants. The oils can affect ants’ foraging behavior and prove somewhat toxic. Peppermint oil is one of the most effective essential oils against ants as it’s both a repellent and has some toxicity. It’s even been found to cause fire ants to abandon their nests when applied at high concentrations.
Mighty Mint is a good choice for spraying around the kitchen and areas where ants are getting into your home and it definitely won’t hurt your pets.
Pet Safe Ant Killers for Outdoor Use
To really get to the root of your ant problem, it isn’t enough to kill the ants you see in your home. These are only worker ants that are foraging for food to take back to the colony and leaving scent trails for other ants to follow. These pet safe ant killers are perfect for using outdoors to create an insect-free barrier around your home or killing an ant nest.
Related Article: How to Keep Ants Off Hummingbird Feeders
5. Talstar Insecticide (Outdoors)
Talstar Professional Insecticide is a costly but excellent choice if you want to protect your home from ants or kill them where they’re nesting. It doesn’t just treat ants; it can also protect your home and pets from other pests like ticks.
The most important thing to remember about Talstar is it contains bifenthrin at a high concentration. This chemical can even cause skin irritation to humans on exposure and it definitely isn’t safe to let your pets near liquid Talstar.
The good news? It’s a completely pet-friendly ant killer once it dries.
To protect your pets, keep them indoors while you spray Talstar and give it time to dry before you let them play outside.
To use Talstar, you’ll want to dilute it with 1 ounce of Talstar per gallon of water and apply to areas where you see ants or expect ants to forage. For the best results, try to find the ant nest and spray it. You can also use Talstar to create a long-lasting barrier around your home by spraying along the fenceline, at your foundation, along door and window openings, and around door and window trim. It works best when sprayed on areas protected from rainfall and sprinklers.
When used to treat ant hills, apply at the same concentration, thoroughly soaking the ant-hill until the apex falls apart. Treat the area within three feet of the ant-hill to make sure the pesticide soaks into the ant nest and flows into the tunnels. You should apply Talstar in the early morning or evening when the temperature is between 65 and 80 degrees F.
Once applied, Talstar will last about three months before you need to spray a new barrier.
6. Homemade DIY Ant Bait: Boric Acid & Cornmeal (Outdoors)
Boric acid is only safe for pets if they can not get to it. So their probably are better options. However if you are going to use it outside here are some ways to do so.
Want to make your own pet safe ant killer that you can use outdoors? Try a mixture of boric acid and cornmeal which can be placed in crevices and gaps around your property or near ant nesting sites.
Pets are unlikely to be interested in cornmeal but you can make it completely pet-proof by creating your own bait station. To make boric acid bait, combine 9 parts cornmeal with 1 part pure boric acid. You can add a bit of honey to make a paste-like solution.
The honey and cornmeal will attract the ants and they’ll take it back to the colony. Boric acid is a slow killer that gives the chemical enough time to spread throughout the colony.
To keep pets safe, apply the bait to areas your pets can’t reach like crevices along your foundation, cracks around doors and windows, fenced-off areas of the garden. You can also place the bait in an empty drink mix or food container with a sealed lid. Drill holes that allow ants to enter and leave with the bait and place in hidden areas where ants congregate.
To make it even more unlikely that your pet will take an interest in your bait station, don’t add peanut butter to the bait mix.
Related Article: 8 Best Ant Killer Products
7. Conserve Naturalyte Fire Ant Killer (Outdoor)
Conserve Naturalyte Organic Insecticide is designed specifically to kill fire ants and their colonies with a pet safe ant killer called spinosad. Spinosad is made from naturally-occurring bacteria and kills fire ants by attacking their nervous system when consumed, causing paralysis and death.
To use Conserve Naturalyte spinosad insecticide, mix two ounces of the spinosad solution per gallon of water and apply to fire ant mounds as a drench. Apply the solution slowly like natural rainfall without disturbing the colony to make sure it penetrates deeply. It should be applied in the early morning or evening with the best results after recent rainfall when temperatures are between 65 and 85 degrees F.
Spinosad can also be used to kill other species of ants that have formed colonies or nests around your property with this same drenching method.
Related Article: 7 Best Ways to Get Rid of Fire Ants
My name is Christine and I’m living in Southwest Ohio where I was born and raised after a decade spent living in Southern California.
While I loved working as a Pest Control Technician in Western Ohio, I did not enjoy the hours.
I decided to find a new career and now I work as a writer and help others find solutions to their pest problems online.
In my free time, I enjoy traveling and going to as many metal concerts as possible.