How to Keep Ants Out of Pet Food | Simple and Effective Methods

Written by Thomas Matthews

Some pets are messy eaters and will spill all around their feeding area. In that case, your pet’s enjoyable snack time is, unfortunately, the reason why ants might infest their food.

One effective way of keeping the ants away from the pet food is buying or making your own food bowl water moat. The water around the food bowl will drown the ants before they can get to the food. Another method is investing in an anti-ant bowl. This bowl is specifically designed to keep ants from climbing into the pet food.

In this article, we have given you step-by-step instructions on how to make your own water moat if you do not wish to buy one. Each method has its benefits but some may be harmful to the pet if not done correctly. These methods are easy to implement and more likely than not you will already have the necessary items in your home. Let’s begin!

Why Is My Pet Food Attracting Ants?

Ants are drawn to meat, which is one of the main elements in the majority of pet food recipes. They’re considered omnivores, which means they consume both meat and plant-based foods, so even if your cat’s meal doesn’t naturally contain meat, they’ll probably still consider it to be delicious.

How Are Ants Getting Into Your Dog and Cat Food?

The majority of pests enter homes from the outside through tiny gaps, such as fractures in windows, breaks in door screens, and doors themselves. 

If you don’t see any obvious entry points on the inside, they’re likely sneaking in through an outside crack. Once pests find a way into your walls, they can slip through openings in baseboards or other hard-to-spot areas.

We advise the following measures to keep pests out of the majority of your home’s outside entrances:

  • All cracks and openings in your siding and foundation should be filled with outdoor-grade silicone caulk. Ideally, you should fill spaces that are at least one-quarter inch wide.
  • Installing a door sweep for any doors with visible gaps in the bottom.

How to Keep Ants Out of Pet Food?

Clean Regularly the Feeding Area of Your Pets

Clean Regularly the Feeding Area of Your Pets

The first step in eliminating ants from your pets’ food is by cleaning up the area around it (prevention is the key). Ants are attracted to the crumbs that fall on the floor as you or your pets feed. To solve this problem, the first step is to eliminate the source.

Start by routinely cleaning the pet food bowl. This should be once every two days or better yet, once a day. Use pet-safe dish soap to ensure that your pet is protected from any potentially harmful soap chemicals.

After cleaning the dish, clean the floor (either clean the entire house or the area where the pet bowl resides). This should be done using the same pet-safe soap to kill the ant trail left earlier because the ants will just use the same trail to locate the pet bowl.

Another way to eliminate the ant trail is by use of lemon water or vinegar water. Basically, this requires you to add some lemon or vinegar to your cleaning water and wipe the floors with it. The scent throws off the ants and they are unable to locate the previously left trail.

Peppermint Oil Method

This method works wonders! Ants are led by their sense of smell and peppermint oil is just the right tool to use to disrupt their sense of smell.

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This essential oil is highly recommended if you want to keep all sorts of pests away from your home, be it cockroaches, spiders and you guessed it, ants as well. It should be noted that it doesn’t actually kill the ants, it just keeps them away. 

Take a tablespoon of pure peppermint oil and put it in a spray bottle and mix it with a cup of water. Use the mixture to wipe the surfaces and spray the mixture everywhere the ants have crawled over.

Optional but you can also choose to add some vinegar to the mixture which will only enhance it and keep those ants far away from your pet.

High amounts of pure peppermint oil are toxic to most pets and with that in mind, do not apply the peppermint oil mixture directly to the pets’ bowl. This is why it is important to dilute low amounts of peppermint oil with water.

The mixture being used here is quite potent for the best results and with that in mind, it is wise to protect your pet by ensuring that there is no chance of it licking the treated surfaces.

DIY Method: Build a Food Bowl Water Moat

A water moat is a defense mechanism. Ancient castles used to dig a wide ditch around their castle walls which would then be filled with water. This was effective in keeping the enemies away. Because to get to the castle, you would need to swim or die trying!

The same mechanism is used with the food bowl water moat. You can either buy one or you can build one yourself.

Required items: To do this, you need your pet food bowl, another bowl that is slightly bigger than your pet food bowl, and some water.


  • Put some water in the bigger bowl and then place the pet food bowl (containing the pet food) inside it.
  • Ensure that the space between the food bowl and the water bowl isn’t big enough for the pet to drink from. This water can be mixed with safe oils that will make it harder for the ants to swim across.
  • Also, ensure that the water isn’t too high, that it risks getting into the pet food or pouring over once the bowl containing the food has been placed in.

This bowl method comes highly recommended by many pet owners but just in case it doesn’t work for you, the next method is sure to help.

Invest in an Anti-Ant Bowl

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you found something that just solves all the “ant in your pet food” problems in one go? There is something on the market that might be exactly what you are looking for. It assures its users that ants will never make their way into the bowl.

Anti-ant bowls deliver on the following:

  • No ants will ever make it into the bowl!
  • The bowl is dishwasher safe so you can just wash the dish every day without much ado. Therefore, keeping up with the clean requirements we have mentioned earlier.
  • It comes fitted with a rubber base that prevents it from moving on the floor.

These anti-ant bowls are shaped in such a way that the ants can climb on the dish. They never actually make it into the pets’ meal.

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The one way to make sure that these bowls stay ant free is to ensure that they never end up leaning against the wall. If it leans against the wall, ants can easily climb on the wall and into the bowl. The rubber base mentioned above ensures that even your pet doesn’t push the bowl against the wall.

Store the Food in a Plastic Container

Store food in an airtight container that will serve as a physical barrier to stave off infestations. You may be confident that the next time you go to feed your pet, you won’t encounter any ants. They will find it difficult to get through the durable material.

Baking Soda

Using baking soda to make a physical barrier is another efficient way to reduce the number of ants that emerge on pet food. Ants are naturally discouraged from it since it dehydrates them and causes them to avoid it.

To help control the situation, simply sprinkle some baking soda around your pet’s food bowl or distribute it strategically in your kitchen. 

Other Methods for Keeping Ants out of the Food for Pets

If for whatever reason you find yourself needing more ways for keeping the ants away from your pets’ food, then you can try the following methods.


Applying Vaseline around your pet’s feeding bowl/area is good for keeping the ants away. They wouldn’t manage to crawl over the sticky stuff and so this may be a method worth giving a shot. However, please note that it can get quite messy since the cat will/might smear it all over the floor, bowl, himself, etc.

Baby Talc Powder

Baby talc powder seems to have the same effect as Vaseline. The only difference would be that the smell from it is what will keep the ants away.

This method should, however, be utilized with care because pets shouldn’t be put in a position where they are inhaling the talc powder. It may be harmful to your pet and thus should be handled with care.

List of Sources

Fire Ant Control Methods around Pets, Texas A&M AgriLife
Integrated Pest Management: Ants, University of California
Ants don’t have to be a bother inside (Get rid of ants naturally), Metro

Thomas Matthews
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