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Can dogs eat crickets?

The essentials

  • Crickets are safe for dogs to eat — Due to the high protein levels in crickets, these insects provide dogs an alternative to organ meats.
  • They may do wonders for your dog’s health — The top-notch nutrients and potential reduction in gut inflammation are two reasons to feed this insect to your canine buddy.
  • Powerful proteins are a crucial component for a long and healthy life —In this case, we’re talking about edible crickets rather than the typical organ meats and sardines you may feed your dog.

Surprisingly, yes, dogs can eat crickets. The future of dog (and human) food now includes insects. Recent studies and testimonials tell us that alternative proteins are on the rise in the pet industry and for human consumption, given their low environmental impact and high-quality protein content. 

The use of crickets in particular may just change the way we feed our furry best friends. These little critters share the same general “nutty and roasted” characteristics with their cousins, including the bush cricket, katydids, locusts, and grasshoppers.

Are crickets good for dogs?

Crickets are known for being an excellent source of protein. Looking at their flavor profile, it’s no wonder many reptile owners feed crickets to their geckos and bearded dragons. 

Now edible insects are becoming all the rage for dog (and cat) owners, and brands are catching on to this trend.  Experts have found that the benefits of edible insects for humans are (seemingly) endless: “Insects make animal protein vastly more efficiently than cows and, pound for pound, deliver far better nutritional value than the finest steak. Unappealing as an insect milkshake might sound, it may promote the growth of healthy gut bacteria that could help prevent inflammation and cancer.”

Insect-based diets help with gut inflammation

Beyond protein, eating crickets also may have a noticeable effect on the GI system. The insect’s outer layer (or, the exoskeleton) is another reason a balanced diet including insects is so beneficial for humans and perhaps canines. Researchers saw potential prebiotic effects and a reduction in gut inflammation in studies with humans.

What about insect powder?

Human chefs are using insect powder as an alternative to flour for baked goods like banana bread. Upon closer look, humans can’t see the edible insects within the powder, and there isn’t any noticeable taste. 

Insect powder isn’t quite a mainstream product just yet, but the use of insects and cricket meal can be a great addition to your pup-friendly recipes. Dog owners should be sure to read the full ingredient list to ensure your furry friend isn’t allergic to any other ingredients in the blend.

Scientists believe crickets have a lot to offer

Crickets are full of nutrients. In addition to protein, crickets are high in healthy fats, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, and iron. The iron content of crickets is 180% higher than beef. Crickets are also quantifiably higher in calcium and the B vitamin riboflavin than meat products like chicken, pork, and beef.

Interestingly, some cricket species are complete protein sources — meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids in ideal proportions. They are also safe and non-toxic for dogs.

Benefits of cricket protein for canines

At this point, we know that crickets have several essential nutrients for dogs. However, more research and studies (such as long-term feeding trials) need to be done to truly determine the health benefits for our canine buddies.

Here are a few benefits that have been suggested from recent edible cricket data: 

  • Crickets promote gut health. Consumption of crickets can promote a healthy gut microbiome.
  • They crunch pretty well, too. Dogs love the crispy texture of crickets, and some humans even say they have nutty or chicken-like flavor depending on how they’re prepared!
  • Crickets are a high-quality protein source. Crickets can be used as a protein alternative to organ meats and beef, chicken, and turkey.
  • Crickets can be a good choice for dogs with allergies. Dogs with food allergies may benefit from allergen-friendly crickets.

👉 As always, we recommend checking with your vet before introducing a new ingredient like crickets into your dog’s diet.

Some dog food brands are adding crickets to the menu

Many experts believe that if we can change the perception of eating insects, dogs (and humans) will benefit. Some dog food brands are early adopters, even though many pet owners are grossed out with the idea of feeding bugs to their canines.

Companies like Chippin are at the forefront of the edible insect industry. According to Chippin, “Crickets are good for dogs in providing a source of complete and highly digestible protein that has all ten essential amino acids. Crickets are a natural source of prebiotic fiber, protein variety, and support for gut health for dogs with allergies or sensitive tummies.”

Backyard bugs aren’t a substitute for “cricket dog treats”

While crickets raised in a controlled environment may be safe for consumption, there are potential risks for dogs consuming bugs outside. 

Bugs can be exposed to harmful chemicals, and some bugs (like bees and wasps) will sting your pets. Backyard bugs may also carry parasites, parasite’s eggs, or other diseases;  which could make your pup very sick. 

👉 In severe cases, if your dog may show signs of illness after eating a bug, such as vomiting, weight loss, or lethargy, it’s a good idea to consult with your veterinarian.

Edible insects are perfectly safe for humans and dogs

Insects have many benefits for humans and perhaps dogs. The good news is that high-quality crickets and other bugs may help dogs with allergic reactions to common proteins, like beef or chicken. Dogs with chronic upset stomachs and gastrointestinal issues may also benefit from eating bugs as cricket protein acts similarly to hydrolyzed protein, which is often fed to dogs with sensitive stomachs. 

Pet owners should always check with their vet before introducing new protein sources, however, as this could minimize the risk of a negative experience for your pet pal. This includes cricket flour, meal, or related ingredients in your pet’s food, too. 

🚨 In rare cases, your dog may get sick after eating a treat made with cricket protein as the main ingredient. If so, monitor them and schedule an appointment with your vet if the condition worsens.

There’s a shift on the horizon towards sustainable insect protein due to its unique composition. From its purported health benefits to its positive environmental impact, we’re all in on crickets for your dog.

Frequently asked questions

Are grasshoppers ok for dogs to eat?

Grasshoppers are known to have just as much protein as crickets! However, grasshoppers aren’t known to taste quite as delicious — so there aren’t a lot of treats made with this insect on the market. 

More research needs to be done to definitively say they’re safe for our dogs to eat. A better alternative would be black soldier fly larvae, which the pet food industry deems a “superfood” for its amino acid content and overall nutritional profile.

Where can I get crickets for my dog?

We don’t recommend farming crickets from the natural local ecosystem (like your backyard) because of their potential for being contaminated by chemicals.  Instead, many companies use cricket condos, which offer plenty of space for crickets to grow, molt, and mature. 

How often can my dog eat bugs?

Bugs shouldn’t be a regular part of your dog’s diet unless they come from a controlled and safe source. While your dog eating a bug here and there can be okay, there are some bugs that can pose health risks, even when one is eaten. If you’re worried that your pet may be acting differently after consuming a bug, try to figure out what bug it was and contact your vet immediately. 

If your dog loves eating bugs when they’re outside, try and use training techniques to break their habit and supplement their diet with more controlled or common snacks. Here’s what our vets have to say about common foods that are a better choice for a treat and which to stay away from and note that your dog’s age may affect how they react. Puppy’s have more sensitive stomachs than adult dogs.

Why is my dog obsessed with eating crickets?

Animals like to play and hunt. The crickets found in your yard hop and bounce, possibly providing entertainment to your furry best friend. (Plus, dogs love the crunch and hearty taste of them when they “win”).

Can my dog get worms from eating crickets?

Yes, that could happen. Certain worm larvae can be found in insects that consume infected feces. 

If your dog consumes an infected bug, those worms can then hatch in your dog’s stomach. Your pet may not exhibit any abnormal behaviors, but if they are infected, they may have chronic or acute vomiting. 

What bugs are poisonous for dogs to eat?

Some bugs are poisonous — and you may be surprised to learn which ones can cause the most harm. For example, many caterpillars can be poisonous, and their hair can cause localized dermatitis or allergic reactions.  

Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat milkweed which is poisonous to dogs. Slugs, asps, and gypsy moths also have extremities that can cause dermatitis or irritation. Lastly, venomous spiders like black widows and brown recluses can cause dogs to become seriously ill. While some parts of the natural world are safe for your dog to eat, others aren’t.