You may have not fully recovered from the photo that circulated two years ago of Asian lady beetles covering the roof of a Kansas dog’s mouth — but experts say, this is a pest pet owners need to be mindful of every holiday season.
According to The Houston Chronicle, this time of year is when dog owners need to be most vigilant for Asian lady beetles, which look similar to harmless ladybugs.
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“Humidity is their normal environment,” Mikal Shamsi of Pest Police told the Texas paper. “They latch onto the roofs of the dogs’ mouths and it’s hard to remove them – you have to do them by one by one with tweezers. They are not a parasite, though, they are a pest and they are just determined to survive.”
As the temperatures continue to drop and humidity continues to disappear, this insect is more likely to seek out the warmth of your pet’s mouth, which it can find while your dog is rooting around lawns and gardens.
PetMD says it is rare for canines to suffer an infestation like the dog’s in this unforgettable photo from a Kansas vet’s office (WARNING: photo may be graphic for some viewers). It is more likely that your dog will ingest an Asian lady beetle or two, which is still an uncomfortable experience.
“When attacked, Asian lady beetles release body fluids (called hemolymph) containing stinky and poisonous chemicals,” PetMD says of the pest, which is the only beetle of its type that bites humans.
The body fluids an Asian lady beetle releases during an attack can cause burns to a dog’s mouth or gastrointestinal tract. Because of the pain caused by these injuries, dogs often eat just a few Asian lady beetle before searching out water to drink; drinking water often prevents the pests from sticking to the dog’s mouth. If beetles do burrow into the inside of your dog’s mouth, your pet will likely need to be sedated by a veterinarian so they pests can be carefully removed with tweezers. After the insects are removed, the remaining injuries can be treated with medication, antibiotics and nursing care.
Often minor injuries caused by the corrosive fluids released by the beetles heal on their own; in some cases, the injuries can get infected. Infections will require treatment from a veterinarian.
Dog owners can protect their pets from these pests by quickly treating any Asian lady beetle infestations in and around their homes, routinely checking their dogs’ mouths for beetles and caulking cracks in their homes where an outside beetle can slip in.