When you think of a traditional doggy diet, insects probably don’t feature. But a rising number of pet owners around the world are turning to this source of protein for their pooches. So is a diet that is made up of insects healthy for dogs, and could it even be better than more conventional sources of nutrition? Keep reading to find out.
Is insect-based dog food good for my dog?
When you’re choosing food for your dog, you want something that’s complete and balanced. Part of this means making sure that meals have enough protein, as well as other crucial components including vitamins and minerals such as iron, calcium and zinc. It’s now possible to buy insect food that has all these features and is therefore a safe and healthy choice for your canine companion. Also, because insect protein is lean and low in unhealthy fats, this type of diet can help to prevent obesity in dogs.
Insect-based food can be a particularly good option for pet owners who prefer to avoid giving meat from traditional livestock animals. In the past, if you wanted to forgo meat for your dog, you typically had to rely on commercial or homemade vegetarian or vegan food, but now you have the option of insect-based products instead. These diets have been shown to contain more complete amino acid profiles than vegetable protein, making it easier to ensure that your dog gets the nutrition they need.
Foods made from insects can also be cleaner than meaty alternatives. The insects used are raised in clean environments and their feed is closely controlled to prevent the transmission of diseases, so you can be sure you’re getting a safe product.
Another advantage of insect-based foods is that because of their novel protein structure, they can be tailored for pets that have been diagnosed with allergies or intolerances. The food we offer at Percuro, for example, can be a healthy option for dogs with allergies and sensitive stomachs.
As with any type of diet for dogs, the important thing is to make sure you go for a high-quality product that matches the specific nutritional needs of your pet, taking their age, breed and weight into account. Pay attention to the ingredients included in addition to insect protein too. For example, ingredients such as flaxseed, olive oil and algae are rich in fatty acids that help to protect pets’ health.
Is insect-based food better for pets than steak?
Surely nothing can top steak when it comes to the ultimate canine meal, right? Well actually, this isn’t necessarily the case. There are a number of reasons why choosing insect-based food could in fact be better for your furry friend than a piece of prime steak. Speaking to the BBC, British Veterinary Association (BVA) president Simon Doherty described insect food as “palatable, nutritious and bioavailable”, and noted that a diet of steak wouldn’t be nutritionally balanced. He went on to state that it is better to buy balanced foods, whether or not they contain insects.
And the BVA isn’t alone in praising the benefits of insect-based food for pets. The United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organisation has stated that the nutritional value of insects does not differ from those of other meat sources, including beef, adding that insects are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals and fats.
So bugs could very well beat a slab of steak when it comes to looking after your pet’s wellbeing, while insect protein’s solid eco-credentials take care of our planet’s wellbeing at the same time.
Advantages of insect-based dog food
As we have explored, there are lots of advantages of insect-based food for dogs when compared with other more traditional sources of nutrition. For example, in terms of health, these products are:
- Rich in vitamins and minerals: As previously discussed, insect protein can be a healthy choice for your pet because it is rich in crucial vitamins and minerals, including calcium and iron - which are essential for a nutritious, balanced diet.
- Low in fat: This makes it easier to control your dog’s weight - and to reduce the risk of obesity-related medical problems such as diabetes, heart problems and hip dysplasia.
- Highly digestible: The proteins these foods contain feature a complete range of essential fatty acids for optimal nutrient absorption and overall vitality. Percuro’s Black Soldier Fly-based food also provides anti-microbial function that promotes a healthy gut.
- No artificial nasties: Unlike other pet foods, Percuro’s insect-based dog food is clean, meaning it contains no hidden antibiotics or other nasties.
As well as being good for your pooch’s health, these products can be kinder to the environment than meat-based options. Currently, dogs and cats consume 20 per cent of the world’s meat and fish, leaving a huge carbon footprint. Traditional livestock animals such as cows and sheep tend to be very resource-heavy to rear, and they make a big contribution to greenhouse gas emissions. Insects have a much lower environmental impact, so choosing insect protein for your dog over meat-based alternatives can make your household greener.
Co-author: Dr. Scott Miller