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can my pet have this
Close up of a brown cricket

📷 by Wolfgang Hasselmann

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.
  • Insects are everywhere, and dogs typically love how they taste It’s all about the crunch! Many culinary experts say crickets have a uniquely nutty, slightly smoky essence, with just a hint of astringency on the back of the palate.

The future of dog (and human) food now includes insects. The latest research and testimonials1 tell us that crickets share the same general “nutty and roasted” characteristics with their cousins including the bush cricket, katydids, locusts, and grasshoppers.

👉 Across the globe, over two billion people eat over 2,000 varieties of insects. Did you know that two-thirds of all animal species are insects3?

Dogs are now eating crunchy crickets

Crickets are known for their wonderful crunch. Due to their high protein levels and taste profile, many reptile owners feed their geckos and beardies crickets. So now edible insects are all the rage for dog (and cat) owners, and brands are catching on to this trend.  While many reptiles are insect eaters, it’s now time for mammals to enjoy health benefits from bugs.

According to a NOVA episode on edible insects for humans3 the benefits are 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 (the exoskeleton) is another reason a 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. Humans don’t have to see the edible insects with powder, and there isn’t any noticeable taste. Yet insect powder isn’t a mainstream product just yet.

Scientists believe crickets have a lot to offer 

Crickets are full of nutrients3. In addition to protein, crickets are high in fat4, calcium, potassium, zinc, magnesium, copper, folate, biotin, pantothenic acid, and iron. The iron content of crickets is 180% higher than beef. Crickets are higher in calcium and the B vitamin riboflavin5 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. With this in mind, these insects are also safe and non-toxic for dogs.

Nutritional breakdown of one cricket

  • 20% protein
  • 0.005% iron
  • 3% unsaturated fat
  • 0.1% calcium

Eating bugs may help decrease livestock meat production

Raising livestock meat is expensive and some believe it isn’t sustainable long term. But for insects to replace livestock meat production in the pet food world, pet owners’ views around bugs need to shift.

The edible insect industry will need to ensure that insects are safe and quality ingredients are used across the board. According to the Journal of Insects as Food and Feed6, “More long-term studies are still required to evaluate adequacy and safety of insect-based pet foods in dogs and cats as well as studies that focus on the presence of health-promoting bio functionalities of insects.”

Benefits of cricket protein for canines 

Crickets have several essential nutrients for dogs. A number of brands entering the edible insect category are raising crickets in a controlled environment. With that in mind, more research and studies need to be done when it comes to the health benefits for our canine buddies.

  • Promote good gut health and a balanced digestive system
  • Referred to as crunchy (some humans say they taste like Fritos!)
  • It may be used as a protein alternative to organ meats and beef, chicken, and turkey
  • Dogs with food allergies may benefit from a novel protein
  • Clean source of protein, don’t contain antibiotics, pesticides, and GMOs

👉 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 insects6, 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 targeting pet owners. Many brands are going all in and believe using crickets as a normal ingredient will soon become a reality. 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.”

Bug-appetit! 

Many brands are enthusiastic about crickets, which are often compared to roasted or fried ants but without the bitter aftertaste. Dogs are going to love this taste profile.

Chippin provides antioxidant, superfood, and smokehouse BBQ dog treats powered by omega 3 and antibiotic-free crickets. They pair the cricket protein with healthy, all-natural ingredients like blueberries, pumpkin, peanut butter, and carrots.

Ingredients: Oats, pumpkin, crickets (Gryllodes sigillatus), tomatoes, carrots, flaxseed, sunflower oil, molasses, natural hickory smoked flavor.

Jiminy’s partnered with Animal Biome to study the impact of cricket protein’s on your dog’s gut health. The brand verified through research that cricket protein supports a healthy, balanced level of gut bacteria diversity (gut microbiome) in dogs and acts as a probiotic, which we talked about above. Their tasty cricket treats are mixed with dog-favorite ingredients like peanut butter and blueberries.

Ingredients: Peanut butter, cricket powder, ground flax seed, lentils, blueberries, molasses, coconut oil, sea salt, citric acid, buffered distilled white vinegar, antioxidants (canola oil, mixed tocopherols, rosemary extract, green tea extract).

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

Pet owners shouldn’t catch crickets in the yard and feed these to their pets. Not all bugs are created equal either, as some bugs like bees and wasps will sting your pets. Backyard bugs may carry parasites or, worse, which may make your dog very sick. Some bugs like grubs feed on feces which can cause stomach worms. So stop your dog from eating beetles, caterpillars, spiders, stink bugs, cicadas, and fireflies.

Edible insects are perfectly safe for humans and dogs  

Insects have many benefits for humans and perhaps, dogs. Crickets and other bugs may help dogs with allergic reactions to common proteins like beef. Food allergies are a popular reason many pet owners try a novel protein like cricket protein with their dogs. Dogs with chronic upset stomachs and gastrointestinal issues may also benefit from eating bugs.

It’s important that pet owners always check with their vet before introducing new protein sources into their dog’s diet. This includes baking dog treats with cricket flour too. If your dog vomits after eating a treat made with cricket protein as the main ingredient, monitor them but also schedule an appointment with your vet if the condition worsens.

Frequently asked questions

Are grasshoppers ok for dogs to eat?

Grasshoppers are known to have as much protein as crickets(7)! 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.

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. According to a popular pest and lawn service company(8), “Caterpillars are especially dangerous to dogs. Monarch butterfly caterpillars eat milkweed, which contains a substance that can poison dogs and harm their hearts. Other caterpillars like the Slug, Asp and Gypsy moth varieties appear hairy or spiny and can also be toxic to pets, causing intestinal problems and painful internal reactions.” Also, venomous spiders like black widows and brown recluses can cause dogs to become seriously ill.

Why does my dog like eating grasshoppers?

Grasshoppers tend to swarm in one place so it’s likely they’re easier for your dog to catch than a cricket.