Do you have pretty butterflies around your home and yard? They are one of nature’s most beautiful insects, but what happens if your dog happens to chomp down on a butterfly? The answer is it depends on the type of butterfly he’s eaten.
Why Do Dogs Eat Butterflies?
Most dogs don’t choose to eat a butterfly. Instead, a dog may chase the insect around the house or outside. Think of it—how tantalizing is that pretty flying things, which makes swerves and changes height? When it lands, then it can be chased!
Dogs are predators and love to chase all types of prey including insects. But dogs rarely eat butterflies. They prefer to chase these beauties.
If a dog chooses to bite at a butterfly, then it’s possible he could accidentally swallow the pretty bug. Dogs love the game of chase and catch—in biting the butterfly, they may only be trying to catch this beautiful prize!
Butterflies Can Be Poisonous
In North America, there are butterflies that eat nectar from weeds that are toxic to dogs. These butterflies include the Monarch and the Pipevine Swallowtail.
The Monarch caterpillar eats milkweed as it is growing. After it emerges as a butterfly, the Monarch will be poisonous to dogs (or people) who try to eat them. These beautiful butterflies don’t carry enough of the toxin to kill, but the small amount of milkweed toxin is enough to make a dog pretty sick. The dog could develop nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.
A Pipevine Swallowtail eats off the pipevine plant, which is also toxic to dogs. If the dog eats the butterfly, he will likely have the same upset stomach, diarrhea and vomiting as mentioned earlier.
What to Do if Your Dog Eats a Toxic Butterfly
If you’ve seen your dog eat a toxic butterfly for sure, then monitor his symptoms. In most cases, the butterfly will pass without too much trouble. In dogs that are more sensitive, however, you may notice vomiting, upset stomach, and diarrhea. If your fur baby seems OK after that, then there’s nothing else to do.
On the other hand, if your dog doesn’t feel better after being sick, then it’s time to call the vet. The vet will determine if there may have been more of the toxin in your dog’s system, or if he perhaps ate more than just a couple of the butterflies.
The vet may need to do some lab work, imaging, and more to see what’s causing the health issues. In most cases, your fur baby has an excellent prognosis. He should be back to his own playful self again, but you may notice he avoids those tempting fluttering butterflies next time!