Have you ever opened your patio door to let your beloved dog back inside, only to see his cheek is puffed out and he looks really, really uncomfortable? Yep, it happened again. Fido ate a bee, or messed around with one and ended up stung on the muzzle! Other dog owners have probably watched their best friend hilariously leap around the room, trying to snap a pesky fly in their jaws. Usually if there is a creepy crawler somewhere within reach, your dog is going to go after it.
But is this safe? Are all bugs going to harm your dog, or are they generally harmless to eat? What happens if my dog eats one that might not be so safe? Also, it’s a little gross, so is this normal?
Fortunately, the answer is yes!
Some bugs are not safe to allow your dog to ingest, but many of them are harmless. It is important to remember that dogs are naturally curious. Their natural instinct is to chase, play and yes, eat creatures they encounter in the wild. This includes rodents, snakes, frogs and of course, bugs! It is a completely normal part of their curious nature.
As a dog owner, it’s important for you to be aware of the risks and hazards to ensure that your dog is safe as he explores.
Toxic Bugs Your Dog Should Avoid
Sometimes it’s not so much the bug, but the bug’s diet that can pose the greatest risk for your dog. Monarch caterpillars ingest Milkweed, which is highly toxic to dogs. It causes vomiting, nausea and can affect the heart. Thankfully, the bitter taste of these bugs makes it unlikely for your dog to ingest them.
Although Monarch caterpillars do make Milkweed part of their diet, caterpillars of any variety may come into contact with or eat plants with characteristics that are harmful to other animals. Better to leave most of them alone.
Some bugs, such as cicadas and stink bugs, can swarm in large numbers. A very enthusiastic pup might encounter them and think of them as a buffet. While a few aren’t harmful on their own, if a dog is allowed to consume a large number of them uninhibited, it can cause a mass known as a bezoar to form in the stomach that may need to be surgically removed. Expensive and gross.
Bees and wasps, it goes without saying, are not good for your dog to eat. Not only do they possess stingers that can cause serious harm to their face or eyes, an unlucky pup might run into a swarm or a nest.
Be sure to regularly check your property for any signs of nesting insects and if you encounter one, contact a bee keeper or exterminator to come help clear it!
Another hazard to bug-consumption to consider is parasites. Cockroaches, in particular, are prone to parasites. They regularly come in contact with feces, and eating them can easily cause your dog to contract these same parasites in their digestive tract.
Grasshoppers are another toxic bug that your dog should be kept away from. They will be tempted to chase after them in late summer, when they are leaping around your back yard, but they carry roundworms and parasites that can be harmful.
Grasshoppers that have been in farmer’s fields have also most likely come in contact with pesticides or toxic fertilizers which would be toxic if ingested.
If you keep a garden, you may want to watch for your dog to take an interest in earthworms, slugs and snails. These slow moving, ground loving creatures are not the most exciting creature for your dog to pursue with his chase instinct, but they are very commonly found in most back yards. These bugs can give your dog lungworms, which are potentially fatal if left untreated.
It’s a somewhat new idea to think of bugs as a source of protein, but that is precisely what they are. As humans, it has become more common to eat grubs and crickets and even ants. Some cultures do this regularly, in fact. Similarly, bugs can provide additional protein to a dog’s diet, which it may be lacking if it only consumes mass-produced commercial kibble.
Ants are harmless to dogs and have a high dose or protein and vitamin C. It is not uncommon, depending on where your dog’s food dish is kept, for him to find ants crawling around in his food. Unfortunately for the ants, it is completely harmless for your dog to snarf them up right along with his dinner!
Moths, another common unwanted intruder in your home, are also totally harmless for your dog to consume. They will be tempted to chase them around the house and try to snatch them out of the air. When a particularly big one is whizzing around the house, my dog is welcome to take care of it for me!
Spiders are an extremely common household insect that almost every pup is going to encounter more than once. Thankfully, spiders are not inherently dangerous for your dog to consume providing they are not poisonous!
Any dog, the same as any human, would need medical attention if it came in contact with one of the more common toxic spiders such as a brown recluse or a black widow. The risks of encountering one of these species is different depending on where you live. Make sure you research common types of spiders in your area, so that if something does go awry, you can quickly narrow down the culprit!
Providing that as an owner, you are well informed on what types of insects are potentially hazardous and which ones are safe, your beloved best buddy can actually increase his protein consumption through insects! Even as humans, our food industry and quest for alternative protein sources is constantly changing.
One of the most naturally protein-rich and readily available sources comes from crickets!
Insects As A Protein For Dogs
Believe it or not, like humans, dogs are omnivorous. They require both plant-based nutrition and protein to maintain a balanced diet. Traditional dry dog food is widely varied in its use of fruits and vegetables, protein and grain. Many use grain as one of the top ingredients as a filler.
Typical protein sources used in dog food include beef, chicken and pork. They need about 1 gram of protein per lb of body weight to ensure they are getting enough.
Although some of the bugs mentioned above may find their way into your dog’s diet through their natural sense of curiosity, some companies, like Jiminys, are using insect protein to add a natural nutritional punch to their pet food and treat offerings.
Crickets, in particular, are becoming a more common ingredient used by reputable and innovative pet food manufacturers.
Crickets are actually considered a super food. They have a nutty natural flavor, and are more densely packed with nutrients than chicken and beef. They are also better for the environment and emit fewer greenhouse gasses than traditional livestock.
For your dog, crickets that are raised by a reputable source can be processed into high-protein and highly nutritious food and treats to supplement their diet!
Because crickets are used widely as a food source, scholars and nutritionists have broken down the data to help understand what benefits they can provide.
They are considered, similar to beef, a complete protein. They have all of the amino acids that are important for the body to function properly.
They also contain Iron, Vitamins B2 and B12, Fiber and Calcium. They are also easy to raise and require less water than other animal proteins.
When it comes to incorporating these creepy crawlers into treats and food, most companies opt to grind the dried bugs down into a fine meal that can be used like flower. It is combined with fruits, vegetables and other flavors to help make every morsel nutritionally balanced and tasty for your best friend!
Overall, you should not lose any sleep thinking about what might happen if your dog eats a bee or snatches a housefly out of the air. He is following all of his natural instincts and doing what dogs do! There are some general symptoms to look for if you are worried he may have gotten into something that could harm him.
If your dog is experiencing swelling of the mouth, or localized pain, seek help from a vet immediately. Look for evidence of parasites in his stool, excessive drooling, vomiting or diarrhea. Lethargy and loss of appetites can also be indicators that something is wrong.
Exploring the benefits of adding natural protein to your dog’s diet can improve both your lives! Thinking of naturally healthy options, like crickets, is a great way to reward your beloved dog for doing all the things he does best.
You will feel great knowing that he is getting all the good stuff he needs to live a healthy life, and at the same time promoting a greener, healthier world!