We would rarely think of “food” and “insects” as things that go together. However, in the case of dog diets, creepy crawlers are actually being deliberately added as a source of protein. This is one of the newest trends in dog food and there are already a few manufacturers making bug diets and bug treats for purchase in the UK.
Table of contents
- Why use insects in dog food?
- Which insects are used and where do they come from?
- How do Black Soldier Flies get into my dog’s food?
- Can farmed insects be bad for my dog?
- Will my dog like the flavour of insects in his food?
- Which products are available with insect ingredients?
- Should I switch my dog to a food that has an insect ingredient?
- Insect-inclusive foods appear to be more than just a passing trend
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Why use insects in dog food?
Many insects have a nutrient profile that closely matches the requirements of dogs. They are currently being used as a protein source in dog foods. Insect digestibility is comparable with animal-based counterparts and may even come with some special health benefits! Current research is investigating the antioxidant properties of insect ingredients, which may play a role in combating the effects of aging.
Another benefit of insect-based food is its potential to be used in managing food allergies. Some of the most common ingredients associated with food reactions in dogs include beef, lamb, and chicken. An insect source can be used to replace these ingredients as a long-term solution for dogs who are sensitive to animal-based ingredients.
Which insects are used and where do they come from?
The most commonly used insect for dog food is the Black Soldier Fly (BSF). They are typically farmed in a closed facility where their environment is closely controlled to maximise their growth. After hatching, farmed BSFs will be harvested in the juvenile phase of life. This is the stage at which their nutritional profile is optimal for use as an ingredient for dogs. A small percentage of the juveniles will be left to mature into adults and produce eggs for the next generation.
How do Black Soldier Flies get into my dog’s food?
At the harvesting stage, the insects will be cooled until their metabolism slows down and they go into a deep sleep. This mimics the winter hibernation stage of their life cycle in the wild. At this point, the insects can be frozen and stored or can move on to further processing. Similar to wheat flour, frozen BSFs are ground into a powder which can then be blended into a dog food recipe.
Can farmed insects be bad for my dog?
There is currently a lot of research investigating the use of BSF as a food source for many animals including dogs, fish, chickens, pigs, and even people! So far the risks of using BSF as an ingredient appear to be minimal. The biggest drawbacks to its use is that it can be an expensive addition because the development of BSF farming is still a fairly new innovation.
Will my dog like the flavour of insects in his food?
The BSF is reported to have a distinct flavour. Some have described it as fishy, nutty, and malty. It is difficult to know exactly how a dog would perceive this in their meal, but many studies have shown them to be accepting of the flavour.
Which products are available with insect ingredients?
You can find complete and balanced dog food currently on the market in both dry and tinned formulas. These diets will provide all the nutrients your dog needs to stay healthy. There are also treats which can be given as rewards or snacks between meals.
Should I switch my dog to a food that has an insect ingredient?
When it comes to your dog’s diet – one of the best choices is the one that he’s already eating reliably and has been keeping him healthy! If you are keen to switch, make sure you choose one that has an adequacy statement on the label which confirms that the food is complete and balanced. The transition should happen over the course of a few days to a week by gradually mixing more of the new food into your dog’s meals every day.
Insect-inclusive foods appear to be more than just a passing trend
Especially with their ability to be a part of a complete and balanced diet plus their potential benefits beyond basic nutrition; it is easy to see why! Next time you are at the pet store, pick up a bag of bug-based treats… will your dog be a part of the new craze?