A photo showing a bunch of what appears to be ladybugs embedded onto the roof of a dog’s mouth has gone viral on social media, warning pet owners about letting their dogs consume these bugs and urging them to inspect their pet's mouth for a similar infestation. But according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, there’s no real reason for concern.
The AVMA explained on Facebook that these bugs are 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.”