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A few years ago, a photo showing what appears to be dozens of ladybugs embedded onto the roof of a dog’s mouth was shared around social media, warning pet owners. But should dog owners be worried about letting their dogs eat ladybugs? According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there’s no real reason for concern.

The AVMA explained on Facebook that the bugs in question were not ladybugs, but an invasive species called Asian lady beetles, which caused a problem in a dog who consumed about 16 of them. According to the 2008 abstract, after the dog ate the bugs, they secreted a mucous that caused them to become lodged on the top of the dog’s mouth, causing corrosion similar to a chemical burn.

The case above is the only one that’s been documented, but a veterinarian from Florida reportedly has seen similar cases in her practice. Still, pet owners would see signs of drowsiness or drooling if their dog was affected with an issue from eating the bugs. In other words, it’s not necessary to obsessively check your dog’s mouth for beetle infestation unless you see symptoms.

So how common are the invasive species? The AVMA states the following: “Our info is limited, but it appears that—as with many invasive species—the invasive species is expanding and crowding out the native species. But we don’t know relative numbers.”

Coton de Tulear laying down in the grass.

Are Ladybugs Poisonous to Dogs?

While it is rare that ladybugs themselves would poison a dog, it is still possible that they can have a negative impact on your dog’s gastrointestinal tract. This is rare, but there are signs to look out for:

  • vomiting
  • inability to poop (dogs can’t digest the hard shells)
  • drooling
  • drowsiness
  • changes in behavior
  • behavioral changes

If you’re worried your dog is showing any of the above symptoms, contact your veterinarian.

Related article: Can Dogs Eat Marshmallows?
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