Can Dogs or Cats Eat Moths? Exploring the Consequences

Many pet owners may find their dogs or cats chasing and attempting to eat moths. During the warm summer months, moths become more prevalent, leading to increased opportunities for pets to interact with them. It’s natural to wonder whether it’s safe for dogs or cats to eat moths and what could potentially happen if they do.

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dogs and cats eat moths

Dogs and cats are both natural predators, possessing strong hunting instincts that may result in them capturing and eating insects, such as moths. Generally, eating a moth is considered harmless for both animals. However, if your pet consumes a significant amount of bugs, it might lead to an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea.

While moths are not toxic to dogs or cats, it’s still important to watch for any unusual behavior or illness following the consumption of a moth. If your pet shows signs of distress or discomfort, consult your veterinarian for appropriate care.

Can Dogs and Cats Eat Moths

Prey Drive and Natural Instincts

Both dogs and cats have natural instincts to hunt and chase prey. These instincts can be triggered by the erratic flight patterns of moths and other insects. While most moths are not harmful to pets, there are a few exceptions, such as the Garden Tiger Moth, which may be poisonous if ingested by cats 1. In general, moths are considered safe for dogs to eat and do not carry parasites or diseases that can harm them 2.

Chasing and Hunting Insects

Dogs and cats enjoy chasing and hunting insects as a form of play and mental stimulation. In most cases, this behavior is harmless and may even help keep the insect population under control in your home. However, some insects can cause injury or illness to your pets if ingested. For example, ingesting large quantities of June bugs might result in an upset stomach, vomiting, and diarrhea in dogs 3. On the other hand, stink bugs are not necessarily toxic but can cause dogs to drool or vomit if they bite into one due to their bitter taste 4.

Cats are more likely to hunt insects and sometimes eat them due to their predatory instincts. Although many common insects are harmless to cats, some species can be poisonous or cause injuries such as the Garden Tiger Moth. Cat owners should be cautious about the types of insects their pets come into contact with and discourage them from eating potentially harmful species 5.

cat hunting a moth

Overall, allowing dogs and cats to chase and hunt insects is generally harmless and can provide mental stimulation and exercise for your pets. However, it is essential to monitor their interactions with insects and be aware of any potentially harmful species in your area.


  1. Hepper – Can Cats Eat Moths?
  2. Pet Care Advisors – Can Dogs Eat Moths?
  3. Vetstreet – Will My Dog Get Sick If He Eats Bugs?
  4. The Spruce Pets – Insects That Are Toxic to Cats
  5. Excited Cats – Is It Safe for My Cats to Eat Moths?

Potential Dangers

Stinging Insects

Cats and dogs may encounter stinging insects like bees, wasps, and some venomous caterpillars during their hunt for moths. Although most stings might cause mild pain and swelling, there is a small chance that the sting could cause a severe allergic reaction or anaphylaxis. Additionally, some venomous spiders may be attracted to the same areas where insects, like moths, are common. Ingesting a venomous spider could lead to serious health issues for your pet.

Ingesting Lethargic Insects

In some cases, insects like moths and their larvae might have been exposed to toxic chemicals, such as pesticides. If your pet consumes these infested insects, they may experience symptoms like nausea, vomiting, tremors, or even seizures, indicating a potential poisoning. In such scenarios, it is crucial to consult a veterinarian immediately for appropriate treatment, which may include administering activated charcoal and other medications to manage the poisoning.

While most moths are not directly harmful to cats and dogs, certain species, like the caterpillar of the garden tiger moth, can carry toxins making them poisonous when ingested. Similarly, eating certain caterpillars may lead to health issues, such as anemia and digestive problems. Additionally, ingesting a large number of insects, like grasshoppers, might cause gastrointestinal issues for your pet due to their exoskeletons’ indigestible nature.

Garden Tiger moth caterpillar can be mildly poisonous
The Garden Tiger Moth Caterpillar can cause a mild irritant in mammals

In conclusion, while the occasional consumption of a moth is not likely to cause significant harm to your cat or dog, there are potential dangers associated with their pursuit of these insects. Pet owners should be aware of these risks and take appropriate measures to minimize exposure to potentially harmful insects, chemicals, and other related hazards.

Moth and Caterpillar Toxicity

Saddleback Caterpillar

The Saddleback Caterpillar is a type of stinging caterpillar that can pose a threat to dogs or cats. Contact with this caterpillar can cause severe pain, swelling, and even blistering in animals. Other common symptoms may include lethargy and difficulty breathing. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a Saddleback Caterpillar, it is important to seek veterinary care as soon as possible.

In some cases, the hairs of the caterpillar may become embedded in the skin of your pet, requiring further treatment. Caterpillar toxicosis treatment typically involves removing the hairs, rinsing the affected area, applying cold compresses, and administering pain relief medications. In severe cases, more potent painkillers or local anesthetics may be required. Antihistamines and corticosteroids may also be administered to reduce inflammation and minimize the severity of symptoms.

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars – Toxic to Cats

Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars, unlike Saddleback Caterpillars, do not have stinging hairs but can still pose a risk to cats due to their toxicity. These caterpillars are capable of causing poisoning in cats if ingested. Like Saddleback Caterpillars, if your cat has consumed a Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar, it is essential to seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

poorly cat

Some common symptoms of Monarch Butterfly Caterpillar poisoning in cats include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in the stool, neurologic signs, and lethargy. The toxins found in the caterpillar are known to cause liver damage and kidney damage in animals, which can be life-threatening if left untreated. Treatment for this type of poisoning generally involves providing supportive care, monitoring blood values, and administering medications to alleviate symptoms and stabilize your pet’s condition.

Symptoms and Treatment

Gastrointestinal Issues

If a dog or cat ingests moths, they might experience gastrointestinal upset. Common symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and weakness. Cats might have these symptoms to a lesser extent, as they can safely eat a few moths without significant side effectsK. In some cases, the ingested moths might have been in contact with toxic substances such as mothballs, which could cause more severe symptoms and complicationsL.

First-Aid Measures

If you suspect your pet has ingested a moth or moth larvae that could be harmful, it’s essential to take immediate action.

  • Remove any remaining moths or visible larvae from the pet’s environment.
  • Check your pet’s mouth for moth remnants and remove them gently using tweezers or a cloth.
  • Offer water to your pet to help dilute any possible toxins.
  • Monitor your pet for symptoms mentioned in the Gastrointestinal Issues sub-section and contact your veterinarian if they show signs of distress.

Veterinarian Assistance

If your dog or cat exhibits symptoms, seeks veterinary attention as soon as possible. The veterinarian might start by performing a physical examination and asking about recent exposure to moths or moth larvae.

poorly dog
  • Additional tests, such as blood work, could be conducted to assess organ function and identify any underlying issuesM.
  • Based on the severity of symptoms and findings, veterinarians might administer an antidote if a specific toxin is identified.
  • In severe cases, where organ damage has occurred, blood transfusions could be a necessary treatmentN.
  • Supportive care might be provided to alleviate symptoms and improve your pet’s overall well-being.

The prognosis for pets ingesting moths or moth larvae will vary depending on the severity of symptoms, underlying health conditions, and promptness of treatment. Generally, if symptoms are mild and veterinary care is sought early on, your pet should recover without significant complications.

Prevention and Household Safety

When it comes to our pets’ safety, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks associated with their environment. One common household item that can pose a threat to both cats and dogs is mothballs. In this section, we will discuss the dangers of mothball toxicity, alternative methods to repel moths, and resources for pet owners in case of emergencies.

Mothball Toxicity

Mothballs are commonly used to repel moths and other insects from clothing and stored items. They contain chemicals such as naphthalene, paradichlorobenzene (PDB), or camphor, which can be toxic to pets. Ingestion or inhalation of these chemicals can lead to mothball poisoning in cats and dogs, posing a significant health risk.

Symptoms of mothball poisoning can include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, lethargy, and respiratory distress. If your pet ingests a mothball or is exposed to the toxic effects of its chemicals, it’s crucial to seek immediate veterinary attention.

 moth balls and pets

Pet Poison Helpline

In cases where you suspect your pet may have been exposed to toxic substances, such as mothballs or other hazardous household items, you can contact the Pet Poison Helpline. This 24/7 helpline is staffed with trained professionals who can provide advice and guidance on how to manage potential poisoning situations. They can help you identify the severity of the situation and determine whether an immediate trip to the veterinarian is necessary.

Alternative Methods to Repel Moths

To ensure your pets’ safety and minimize the risk of mothball toxicity, consider using alternative methods to repel moths. Some options include:

  • Use cedar chips or blocks, as the natural oils in cedar wood repel moths and other insects.
  • Store clothing and textiles in airtight containers or vacuum-sealed bags to limit moth infestations.
  • Regularly clean and vacuum closets, paying attention to dark corners and crevices where moths might lay their eggs.
  • Use pheromone-based moth traps to attract and capture adult moths, preventing them from reproducing.

By implementing these alternative methods, you can minimize the risk of moth infestations while keeping your household safe for both cats and dogs. Prevention and proper management are key to ensuring a healthy environment for your pets.


Dogs and cats may eat moths occasionally as a part of their natural hunting behavior. In general, consuming moths is not harmful to pets. For the most part, butterflies and moths are safe for cats and dogs to eat and typically don’t pose a risk to them.

cat thinking about insects and bugs

However, potential dangers could arise if the moth or their caterpillars have come into contact with toxic substances such as insecticides or had fed on poisonous plants. Additionally, mothball toxicity is a concern if a pet consumes a moth that has been near mothballs. Exposure to the fumes created by these substances can irritate a pet’s eyes, nose, and lungs, potentially causing severe health complications.

To ensure their pets’ safety, owners should keep household insecticides and mothballs out of reach and avoid using them in areas their pets frequent. If a pet owner suspects their dog or cat has consumed a moth that may have been exposed to toxic chemicals, they should consult with a veterinarian as soon as possible.

In conclusion, occasional moth consumption by pets is not likely to cause any harm, but precautionary measures should be taken to avoid exposure to toxic substances. Maintaining a clean and safe environment for pets can help prevent any potential health issues associated with consuming moths or any other insects.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can moths harm pets?

In general, moths are not harmful to pets like cats and dogs. Most moth species are safe for pets to eat and do not pose a serious health risk. However, there are some caterpillar species that can be poisonous to cats, but such instances are very rare. The caterpillar of the Brown Tail Moth can cause stomach upsets in pets. If in doubt, speak to your Veterinarian.

Is it bad for dogs or cats to eat moths?

No, it is not bad for dogs or cats to eat moths. Moths are not carriers of parasites or diseases that can harm dogs. In fact, moths can be a source of protein and are not toxic to dogs 2. However, it is still important to monitor dogs and ensure they do not consume an excessive amount of moths.

Can cats get worms from moths?

There is no evidence to suggest that cats can get worms from eating moths. Moths are not known to carry parasites or diseases that can be transmitted to cats 3. Nonetheless, it is best to discourage them from eating moths if possible.

What bugs are harmful to pets?

While most insects do not pose direct threats to pets, there are some that can be harmful. For example, certain species of venomous spiders, such as the black widow and the brown recluse, can be dangerous to pets if they are bitten. Additionally, tick bites can transmit diseases like Lyme disease or Rocky Mountain spotted fever to both dogs and cats. It is essential to take preventive measures by using flea and tick preventatives and monitoring your pets for any signs of distress or illness after encountering bugs 4.


  1. Are Moths Poisonous to Cats? – Nahf
  2. Can Dogs Eat Moths? | Pet Care Advisors
  3. Can Cats Eat Moths? What You Need to Know! | Hepper
  4. My Cat Ate a Moth Will He Get Sick? (Reviewed by Vet)
Tom Watson