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5 Effective Ways to Keep Ants Away From Cat and Dog Food

5 Effective Ways to Keep Ants Away From Cat and Dog Food

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It seems as though everyone has had to deal with pesky ants in their home at one time or another. It is bad enough when they seem to take over a specific food-related area in your home, but when they invade your pet’s food dish it is even more annoying.

Your dog or cat does not understand what is going on and might be afraid to eat from their bowl until they are sure it is safe to do so.

Before you have to resort to a strong pest control spray, there are things you can do to cut down on your chances of finding ants in and around your cat and dogs’ bowls.

How to Keep Ants Away From Cat and Dog Food

If you don’t currently have an ant problem in your home you are already ahead of the game. There are things you can do to make sure they do not show up and head for your cat or dog’s food.

1 – Keep Your Dog or Cat’s Dish Clean at All Times

Dirty Cat Food Dishes

One of the simplest things you can do to prevent an influx of ants around the food of your dog or cats is to keep their area sparkling clean.

Make sure their bowl is clean and sweep or vacuum the area to prevent any crumbs from attracting the little varmints. Use dish soap and water to clean your pet’s bowls, rinse thoroughly and dry it before filling it with their food and water.

It’s always easier to prevent them from starting in the first place than to have to get rid of them after they succeed in their invasion.

2 – Store Your Pet’s Food in Plastic Containers

Next time you are at a dollar store, pick up some plastic containers that will hold your cat and dog’s food so you don’t have to keep a large half-open bag in your pantry.

You can even find some extra-large containers online that are specifically made to hold pet food and even make it easier to fill their bowls without spilling a bunch of food on the floor.

3 – Create a Barrier with Water

Lucky for you, ants cannot swim, so if you want to keep them away from your pet’s food is by creating a moat around the bowl. Take a large aluminum disposable pan and put your cat or dog’s bowl in the middle.

Fill it with about an inch or two of water. The ants will not make it to your pet’s food.

4 – Mark Your Pet’s Territory


Sidewalk Chalk on Pavement

Some people have had luck by drawing a line around their pet’s bowl with chalk. For some reason, the ants won’t cross the line so they will keep their distance and leave your pet’s food alone.

A few people found that this worked at first but then wasn’t as effective. If this happens to you give it another try with a brand new chalked outline.

Sticky Tape

There are a few different types of tape you can use but as long as you apply it so it is sticky on top it will work to keep the ants away from your cat or dog’s food bowl.

Duct tape is sturdy enough but any double-sided tape will be easy to apply. Just put strips of tape around the bowl and even some directly on the bowl to deter the ants.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is an easy non-toxic way to keep ants at bay without worrying about your pets from being attracted to it as well. Mix baking soda with some confectionary sugar and sprinkle it in any areas in and around your kitchen to get rid of ants.

They are attracted to the sugar but it will be the baking soda that will kill them.

Diatomaceous Earth

Mound of Diatomaceous Earth

If you have never heard of this product it sounds more complicated than it is but it is very effective. Diatomaceous earth is a natural product that comes in a food- grade and an inedible form that is not meant for human consumption.

The food- grade is non-toxic to humans and pets but it can safely eliminate ants, fleas, bedbugs, and a number of other annoying pests from your home. All you have to do is sprinkle the powder around your home and your pet’s food bowls and the ants will die upon consumption. Just be careful not to breathe it in if it gets up in the air.

Your pets are safe so it is a safe, inexpensive, and easy way to deal with an ant invasion. You can pick up a bag of diatomaceous at earth at most hardware stores or garden centers at warehouse home improvement centers like Home Depot and Lowe’s or you can order it online from Amazon.


Cinnamon has popped up in many listings as a product to use to exterminate ants because it confuses them and they seem to lose their way. An easy way to utilize this spice is to add it to Vaseline.

When you apply the Vaseline it will have the fragrance of cinnamon so you will know exactly where you have applied it.


If you are not familiar with this product it is primarily known as a supplement to use to enhance your laundry detergent. It is sold under the name 20 Mule Team Borax and can be found in the laundry section at most grocery stores.

The best way to effectively use borax to safely get rid of ants in your home is to create a mixture of 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 1/2 Tbsp of Borax with 1 1/2 cups of warm water. Soak some cotton bowls in this mixture then just place them in areas where you have an infestation of ants.

Keep your pets out of the area while you have the cotton balls out. The ants will be drawn to the mixture because of the sugar but the borax is what will eliminate them. It is also not safe for your pets or small children to be around.

Once the ants check out the sugar they will bring the Borax back to their nests and pass it around to other ants. After a short time, you can just remove the cotton balls and wipe down the area making it safe again for your pets and kids to be around.


Jar of Vaseline

Because Vaseline provides a thick and slippery surface, putting a ring of Vaseline around the base of your pet’s food bowl will prevent them from reaching the top.

Because it will be at the bottom of the bowl you won’t have to worry about your pets ingesting it either.

Lemon Juice/Vinegar

A simple way to keep ants away on a regular basis is to add some lemon juice or vinegar to the water you use to clean your kitchen floors (or other area that attract ants). Either of these liquids removes any aromas that could possibly attract ants into your home.


Another substance that ants cannot tolerate or cross over is pepper. Regular black or cayenne pepper will work at keeping ants away if you sprinkle some near your pet’s bowls.

Orange Peels

The skin of oranges has essential oils that deter many animals. Take the peel of one orange and put it into a blender with one cup of water. Pulverize it until it becomes a mixture that you feel comfortable pouring on any anthills you find.

You can also make it into a spray so that it is easier to use. A plus from using orange peels is everything will smell citrusy fresh and clean.

5 – Make and Use a Natural Spray

1 – Boiling Water and Dish Soap

Dripping Dish Soap

Just add a squirt of dish soap into a spray bottle filled with boiling water. Spray as and when needed.

2 – Peppermint Spray

Another fresh-smelling deterrent to ants can be made with just three ingredients: peppermint oil, witch hazel, and a spray bottle. Fill your spray bottle about two-thirds of the way up with water. Add 12 drops of peppermint essential oil and 2 tablespoons of witch hazel.

Shake to mix the ingredients together and keep it on hand when you need it to treat ants in your home.

3 – Tea Tree Oil

Add from 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil into a spray bottle filled with water and you have another non-toxic homemade ant repellent. You can add a drop or two of peppermint oil if you want to make the scent more aromatic.

4 – Ant Repellent Spray

Orange and Lemon Oil in Vials

Combine the following ingredients in a spray bottle:

  • 2 ounces of water
  • 2 teaspoons of vodka
  • 15 drops of lemon oil
  • 15 drops of orange oil
  • 15 drops of clove oil

All three of these essential oils will kill ants when sprayed directly on them.

Products You Can Purchase that will Keep Ants Away From Your Pet’s Food

If you don’t feel like mixing up your own sprays or building pet moats, you can simply go online and find a number of products that can keep ants from joining your cat or dog for dinner.

Check out these items:

The Antser Ant-Proof Barrier

This can be used inside or out, is moderately priced, and received high ratings from those who purchased them.

BugSnub Ant Proof Tray

This tray uses a pet-safe gel to repel ants safely.

Dyl No-Ant Pet Bowl

This bowl has its own moat built right in. It comes in two sizes, medium and large, and two colors, yellow and pink.

Neatmaster Ultrasonic Pest Repeller

If you want to treat all of the annoying pests in your home this one product can safely do the trick.

Mdxconcepts Organic Home Pest Control Spray

If you feel more comfortable using a spray, this one by mdxconcepts is organic and kills not only ants but spiders, roaches, and a number of other pests. It can be used indoors and outside and is safe for pets.

There is no doubt that some of the smallest insects can be the most annoying to deal with. It seems as though they are at their worst during the summer months and if you think they disturb you, they are even more upsetting to our furry friends.

There are a number of ways to get rid of an ant invasion. Choose what works best for you.

All of the tips, natural remedies, and products for sale are effective in eliminating ants from your home. Don’t spend another day enduring a march of endless ants heading toward your cat or dog’s dinner.

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Mark Shoemaker

Thursday 7th of July 2022

Ants do "swim", a moat does not work. I'm looking for something to add to the water to prevent them from "swimming"


Friday 12th of August 2022

@Mark Shoemaker, add dawn dish soap to the water. Since ants can stay on top of water, the soap will actually break surface tension and cause them to sink! Works for more than just ants as well. Used this trick to kill fleas removed from kittens and puppies too young for treatment! Good luck!