Are Insects a Good Protein Source For Dogs?

I know what you’re thinking!

Why in the world would you ever consider adding insects to your dog’s diet?

You may be surprised to learn that insects can be an eco-friendly food source for your pup. Insects pack a powerful protein punch, can be a great alternative to dogs with food allergies, and their environmental impact is much smaller than traditional protein sources like chicken and beef.

In this article, we will discuss why you may want to consider adding insects to your dog’s diet, what kind of insects you can consider, and how you can incorporate it into their diet.

Are Insects a Good Protein Source For Dogs?

Insects can be a good source of protein and other nutrients for dogs. Some of the specific nutritional benefits of insects for dogs include:

  • High-quality protein: Insects are rich in protein, which is essential for building and repairing muscle tissue. They are also a source of essential amino acids, which dogs need for optimal health.

  • Healthy fats: Insects contain healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining healthy skin and a shiny coat.

  • Vitamins and minerals: Insects are a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc, which are important for maintaining strong bones and a healthy immune system.

  • Digestibility: Insects are highly digestible, which means that dogs can absorb and utilize the nutrients they contain more easily than they can from some other protein sources.

  • Low allergenic potential: Insects are a novel protein source, which means that they are less likely to cause allergic reactions in dogs than more common protein sources such as chicken or beef.

How Protein Content in Insects Compares to Meat

Protein is an essential macronutrient that plays a vital role in the growth, repair, and maintenance of body tissues. While meat is traditionally considered the primary source of protein, insects are emerging as a sustainable alternative protein source that could help alleviate the strain on our food system.

When it comes to protein content, insects stack up quite favorably against chicken, beef, and other meats. In fact, many insects are incredibly rich in protein and contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies need. For example, crickets have been found to contain up to 70% protein by weight, which is higher than beef, chicken, or even fish. Other insects such as mealworms, grasshoppers, and black soldier flies are also rich in protein, with protein contents ranging from 35% to 60%.

In comparison, chicken breast typically contains about 30 grams of protein per 100 grams of meat, while beef contains about 26 grams of protein per 100 grams. While these figures may seem impressive, it’s worth noting that meat also comes with some downsides. For example, meat production is resource-intensive and has significant environmental impacts such as deforestation, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. Additionally, some types of meat may be high in saturated fat, which can contribute to cardiovascular disease and other health problems.

In contrast, insects are much more sustainable and environmentally friendly than meat. Insects require far less land, water, and feed to produce the same amount of protein as meat, making them a more efficient and sustainable protein source. Furthermore, insects emit fewer greenhouse gases and require fewer resources to produce, making them a more eco-friendly protein alternative.

In conclusion, insects are a highly nutritious and sustainable source of protein that compares favorably to chicken, beef, and other meats. With the growing awareness of the environmental impacts of meat production and the need for sustainable food sources, insects may become an increasingly important part of diets in the future.

What Bugs Can Be Added To My Dog’s Food?

The most popular insects used as ingredients in dog food include mealworms, waxworms, and crickets.

Mealworms

Mealworms are the larvae of darkling beetles (Tenebrio molitor). They are a popular food source for many animals, including birds, reptiles, and some mammals, as well as a growing human food source due to their high protein content.

Protein Content: Mealworms are an excellent source of protein. A single serving of mealworms contains 12 grams of protein, which is more than the amount found in one large egg. This makes them an ideal snack for people looking to increase their daily intake of protein without having to resort to animal products. They also contain all nine essential amino acids, making them a great choice for vegetarians and vegans who may be lacking in certain nutrients due to their dietary restrictions.

Vitamins & Minerals: Mealworms are also packed with vitamins and minerals. They contain thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), folate (B9), biotin (B7) and vitamin B12, as well as various minerals like iron, magnesium, zinc, copper and manganese. All these nutrients are important for maintaining good health and can help prevent deficiencies that can lead to fatigue and other illnesses.

Omega-3 Fats: Mealworms are also a great source of Omega-3 fatty acids, which are essential fats that the body cannot produce on its own but must obtain through our diets. Omega-3s have numerous health benefits including reducing inflammation, lowering cholesterol levels and improving cognitive function. Eating mealworms regularly can help ensure that you get enough omega-3s in your diet without having to resort to fish or supplements.

A comparison of meats and mealworm nutritional content (Peni et al., 2020)

Waxworms

Waxworms are small caterpillars that feed on beeswax, honeycombs, and other bee products. They are usually found in areas with high concentrations of bee colonies, such as forests or agricultural fields.

Waxworms are a great source of protein and vitamins A and B complex – both essential nutrients for health and well-being. They also contain omega-3 fatty acids which have anti-inflammatory properties, as well as iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium, sodium, phosphorus, selenium, copper and manganese. This makes them a great addition to any diet!

Waxworms also contain chitin – a type of dietary fiber that helps reduce cholesterol levels in the body. Furthermore, waxworms can help boost immunity due to their high levels of vitamin C content – another powerful antioxidant that helps fight off disease-causing bacteria and viruses.

Comparison of various feeder insects nutritional content (Finke, 2015)

Crickets

Crickets are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, and are considered a highly nutritious food. Here are some of the key nutritional values of crickets:

  • Protein: Crickets are an excellent source of protein, with a protein content of around 60-70% by weight. This makes them a great alternative to meat for people who are looking for a high-protein, low-fat diet.
  • Vitamins: Crickets are a good source of vitamin B12, which is essential for maintaining healthy nerve function and producing red blood cells. They also contain vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid).
  • Minerals: Crickets are rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, and zinc. Iron is important for healthy blood cells, calcium for strong bones, and zinc for a healthy immune system.
  • Healthy Fats: Crickets contain healthy fats such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which are important for maintaining heart health and brain function.

The nutritional composition of different species of edible crickets and selected animal tissues (Ekesi et al., 2021)

Can I Catch Bugs Outside For My Dog?

Wild-caught bugs are not recommended. Do not feed your dog insects that you caught in the wild!

Many wild-caught insects may carry parasites or other diseases that can make your pet sick if they are consumed by them. Additionally, some wild-caught bugs may contain toxins or pesticides that could make your pet ill if ingested.

Another danger associated with feeding wild-caught bugs is that they may not provide the same nutritional value as commercially bred insects. Commercial breeders will often feed their insects special diets designed for optimal nutrition, whereas wild caught insects may not have access to these foods and therefore lack the same nutritional benefits. This means that if you feed your pet wild caught food, it may not receive all the vitamins and minerals necessary for its health and development.

How Can I Ensure I Am Buying Good Quality Bugs From a Breeder or Vendor?

If you do decide to feed insects to your pet, it is important that you take steps to ensure that it is safe and nutritious.

  • Purchase from reputable vendors who raise their own insects instead of collecting them from the wild.

  • Make sure the vendor or breeder has a lot of good reviews from previous customers.

  • Consider gut-loading, which is the practice of feeding insects a quality diet. If the bugs are being fed well, they will be loaded with great nutritional value that your dog will ultimately benefit from. Poorly cared for bugs with bad diet will transfer the subpar nutrients to your dog.

Commercially Available Dog Food With Insects

Jiminy’s Dry Dog Food Cricket Crave

Jiminy’s grub offers a hypoallergenic super food for your pup that is easy to digest and contains lauric acid – an essential substance for aging dogs. Say goodbye to common triggers such as beef, chicken, lamb, soy, & fish; now you can feed your furry friend crickets without worry!

Jiminy’s insect proteins have passed a digestibility test with a score of over 80, proving to be highly nutritious and gentle enough for dogs with sensitive stomachs.

Keeping your pup’s health and wellness at the forefront, this food provides a perfect balance of nutrition that’s great for dogs with allergies. With its all-natural composition, it supports optimal digestion while promoting healthy skin and lustrous coats – allowing you to keep your pet looking their best!


Jiminy’s Dry Dog Food Grub Flavor

A delicious flavor profile using oats, sweet potatoes, and black fly soldier larvae. With high levels of protein, essential amino acids, and healthy fats, black soldier fly larvae are comparable to many traditional animal-based protein sources. Additionally, they’re packed with essential nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and trace elements that contribute to overall health and well-being.

As previously stated with the cricket flavor, Jiminy’s formula is great for dogs who have food allergies to meat products, wheat, corn, or soy.

This formula contains loads of vitamins and taurine to promote your dog’s health!


Jiminy’s Cricket Treats

These yummy dog treats come in several flavors: sweet potato and peas, pumpkin and carrot, peanut butter and blueberry, original flavor, pumpkin and berry, and peanut butter with cranberry.

These treats are hypoallergenic, contain a high protein content with easy digestibility, and contain probiotics to promote gut health.

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