Can Bugs Take Up Residence in a Dog’s Mouth?

I recently was sent a link on Facebook with the image of the interior of a dog’s mouth and what appeared to be ladybugs attached to its roof. The photo was, not surprisingly, disturbing and meant to alarm viewers about what was tagged as a common danger.

Since doing some research I’ve learned a few things about this phenomenon, courtesy of some online pet health experts, that I want to share.

If you’ve seen this image, which can be found on this <>link you’ve probably already read the write up. According to at least one veterinarian, not all of the Snopes information is accurate.

While it’s true that these ladybug-like insects appear to be common ladybugs (which are harmless and indigent to the US), the bugs in the photo are actually Asian Lady Beetles and are not native to this country. However, they were introduced here some time ago to control the aphid population and have become something of a nuisance because they bite and produce toxic chemicals that can cause serious burns. And they are having a negative impact on the proliferation of our friendly and harmless Ladybugs, according to Dr. Eric Barchas.

In his online post for <> that addresses the topic, which can found in its entirety at, Barchas talks about the facts of this phenomena and sheds some light on the actual case in question.

“First, know that it absolutely is possible for insects to embed in a dog’s mouth,” writes Barchas. “I have seen it many times, when debilitated dogs with dental abscesses or tumors suffered fly strike, leading to severe oral maggot infestations. I’ve also seen plenty of ant-infested mouths.”

A paper published in 2008 written by Ian Stocks and Derek Lindsey focused on the case and is well-known in many veterinary circles, he said. It concluded that 16 insects became imbedded in the tissue covering the hard palate of a six-year old mixed breed dog and needed to be removed by hand. In the aftermath, the dog suffered serious chemical burns to his mouth from the contact with the beetles.

So what does all of this mean for your dog? Well, says Barchas, your pooch certainly is not in imminent danger from monster beetles that are actively seeking the warm, wet haven a dog’s mouth provides. It’s sort of the other way around.

“Large masses of Asian lady beetles may be found in structures and dwellings at certain times. Dogs, being dogs, may eat large quantities of them when they find them. Some of the beetles may hang on and become embedded in the mouth when this happens.”

If your dog swallows the chemicals these bugs produce, in addition to causing burns to his mouth, it can cause a host of problems, including ulceration of the gastrointestinal which can turn to a life-threatening condition. So it’s important to take your pet to the vet if he or she tangles with these beetles.

Dr. Barchas perhaps sums the matter up best when he says interaction between your pooch and these beetles can be potentially harmful so don’t let it happen.

If you have questions or concerns about what your pup may or may not have come in contact with call your pet’s veterinarian right away.

And if you have questions about your dog’s behavior be sure to contact your local Capital District, Albany and Saratoga NY Off Leash K9 Training professional. He or she has the expertise to address and resolve a number of behavioral issues, including canine obedience, dog aggression, food aggression, potty training and much more!

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