LIFE

Vet Opens Dog’s Drooling Mouth To Reveal A Strange Ladybug Infestation

by Laura Caseley
Laura is a writer, illustrator, and artist living in New York City.

Last year, a photo on the internet caused a considerable amount of shock, especially among dog owners.

The disturbing image shows the inside of a dog’s mouth, where it appears that ladybugs — the cute, shiny little beetles known for eating aphids — embedded into the roof of its mouth. It was like something out of a horror movie, especially when you consider how cute you thought ladybugs were!

The photo claimed to be from a veterinarian’s office, where a dog came in needing the insects removed. What’s more, the insects seemed to have secreted some kind of chemical, leaving burns on the roof of the dog’s mouth.

But then the skeptics came out. They claimed the photo is fake, that someone was just messing with the internet to cause a stir. After all, who had ever seen something like this? A chemical burn from a ladybug? Ladybugs in a dog’s mouth?

Even with those qualms, though, plenty of people were worried. After all, the thought of a dog getting injured by something so unexpected would rattle any dog parent.

So just like people scrutinized their Christmas ornaments to make sure they were safe, they did some digging to get to the bottom of the strange, icky photo.

The conclusion? Well, it was a little more complicated than the photo being just real or fake. Because isn’t that just how life always is?

Please note that the images below may be disturbing to some, so we’ve blurred them. Click to see the image at your own discretion.

[H/T: Redbook, Snopes]

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This is one of the photos that appeared online, showing what appears to be ladybugs embedded into the roof of a dog’s mouth. Needless to say, it freaked people out.

The photo came with a caption stating that ladybugs and Japanese beetles can attach to the roof of dogs’ mouths and cause them to become ill.

It said symptoms include excessive drooling and that the insects can be removed from the dog’s mouth with a spoon or a tongue depressor.

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Internet myth debunker Snopes decided to investigate. They reached out to a vet, who confirmed that this can, in fact, happen.

“This is the second pup I have seen like this today,” read a Facebook post from a vet at the Hoisington Veterinary Hospital in Kansas just this October.

“If your pet is drooling or foaming at the mouth, look for these ladybugs. They cause ulcers on the tongue and have a very painful bite.”

Luckily, the beetles are easily removed. The dog was treated for the minor chemical burns and recovered.

So, what’s going on here?

Well, it turns out it’s true: Many species of ladybug (and there are many), particularly the Harmonia axyridis, or Asian ladybeetle, secrete a liquid called hemolymph from their legs. The liquid smells bad and can stain, and it can also cause irritation.

However, it’s the open wound in the dog’s mouth that actually cause more of a health concern than the bites or the burns. Vets also say the ladybugs are only a real concern if there are many of them.

You might feel a slight itch if a ladybug releases its chemical onto your skin, and it’s likely more painful on a sensitive area like the inside of a mouth. But while they’re irritating, it’s not life-threatening.

The good news is that the ladybugs can be removed with fingers, a spoon, or a popsicle stick. Gross, but your dog will be OK. Smaller dogs might need to be watched to make sure they don’t swallow the bugs.

If you see any burns or bleeding, take your dog to the vet and get them patched up.

But the bigger question is, how do these bugs even get in a dog’s mouth in the first place?

No one is sure, although it seems like it just might be the result of overly curious dogs trying to make friends with some ladybugs.

“This is a very rare occurrence,” a vet at the Hoisington Veterinary Hospital posted on Facebook. “I wouldn’t have believed it myself until I saw it.”

So what can you do to make sure your dog doesn’t end up with a mysterious mouthful of ladybugs?

For one thing, keep an eye on what your dog does when it’s outside. Look out for signs of excess drooling or changes in eating or drinking behavior.

But don’t go on a ladybug killing spree, especially if you’re a gardener.

Those little guys are your friends. They just need to be kept away from your dog’s mouth!

Watch the video below to learn more.

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