Even though it might initially sound strange, using insect-based kibble for dogs actually makes a lot of sense as the next big thing in the dog food industry. It’s no secret that our planet’s climate is rapidly changing, and traditional meat-based pet food will soon become unsustainable.
Throughout history, insects have been a reliable source of food for humans. There are several reasons why insects are a sustainable food source, so it’s not difficult to imagine them as the future of dog food.
Obviously, not all insects are edible or recommended to dogs but we’ve written about that in a different article.
What is Insect Kibble for Dogs?
Insect kibble is dog food that employs insects as a protein source instead of traditional farm-grown meat.
When it comes to ingredients, Yora Pet Food, which is the only company that sells insect-based dog food, says it uses a combination of hermetia illucen larvae, British grown oats, potatoes, kale, and chicory. Unlike other dog foods, these ingredients are safe and free from chemicals.
Yora Pet Foods claim that the insects they use are grown in a modern, controlled environment and are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. If you don’t know, almost all farm animals are given antibiotics and growth hormones to help them mature quicker.
Aside from being a potentially healthier alternative to traditional dog food, insect-based pet food also has the following advantages:
- Insects are easier and far less resource-intensive to grow than chicken or beef
- Insects contain almost as much protein as other farm animals
- Using insects in dog food is carbon neutral since these insects eat leftover vegetables and produce excellent fertilizer as a waste product
To sum it up, insect kibble is sustainable dog food and there is practically no denying that.
Can I Buy Dog Insect Kibble in the US?
At the time of writing this, the FDA or the AAFCO has not approved insect-protein dog food. This is not to say that insect kibble is not safe for dogs to eat. More often than not, these authorities take a lot of time to approve even the safest of food options.
Why is that the case? Some of it has to do with the lack of awareness regarding insects and the role they could play in eradicating hunger while also being environmentally sustainable. These factors have been keeping authorities from looking into the matter more keenly. Additional reasons include lobbying from the classic pet industry and also, bureaucracy.
Remember, you can’t buy Yora Pet Food in the US. The situation will probably change in the future but for now, things are looking stale for the US market.
Can I Buy Dog Insect Kibble in the UK?
Yes, you can buy dog insect kibble in the UK. Unlike the US, pet food manufacturers like Yora don’t need to get approval to sell insect-protein dog food in the UK.
There, you can walk into a store and buy insect kibble. However, that’s easier said than done. Insect kibble is still relatively new and expensive compared to traditional dog food. Seeing this, most retailers don’t store it or only store limited quantities of it.
So, you can buy it in the UK but you may have to hunt it down.
What Are The Benefits of Insect Kibble for Dogs?
There are a lot of benefits to using insects as an ingredient for dog food; some of them may even surprise you. Here’s a list of what insect kibble has to offer.
The biggest advantage of using insects in dog food is environmental sustainability.
Yora claims on their website that it takes them 1 teaspoon of eggs to produce 100kg of protein in 14 days. And that’s achieved without using any growth hormones.
Similarly, the insects Yora uses don’t need any specialized feed. They are fed leftover vegetables that would have ended up in landfills. This reduces the amount of waste and contributes to preserving the environment since insects produce excellent fertilizer as their digestive waste.
On the same note, insects present in Yora Pet Food only need a 45m2 of area and 54,000 liters of water to produce 10Kg of protein. When we compare these numbers to farm animals like chicken that need 300m2 of area and 340,000 liters of water, we see how insects are far less resource-intensive as compared to these farm animals.
They use fewer resources, grow super fast without any hormones, reduce waste, and have an overall little carbon footprint on the planet. What’s not to like about them?
Healthy Protein Source
Insects are among the most protein-rich food sources on the planet. According to the Food And Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, insects contain as much as 60% crude protein content. This equals or exceeds the protein content of farm animals like chicken.
These proteins have complex amino acid structures that guarantee healthy growth. These proteins contain both essential and non-essential amino acids.
If your dog is allergic to proteins present in traditional dog food, insect-based pet foot may be the right option for it.
Here’s a short version of the whole story.
Because insect kibble is a totally unique dog food that employs proteins from one source, it is highly unlikely that your dog is allergic to it.
Yora claims that it uses only one type of insect-protein in its dog food. Doing this has a couple of advantages:
- The pet food, in this case, is easier on the tummy
- In the long run, it’ll become an affordable alternative to more expensive solutions
In addition to being easier on the tummy, insect dog kibble is hypoallergenic. This means that if your dog can’t handle most dog foods, insect food for dogs is a viable option since it contains plenty of protein in addition to oats and dietary fibers.
As I’ve mentioned before, insects in dog food are an awesome way to prepare environmentally sustainable, nutrient-rich pet food. When we combine this strong foundation with other essential nutrients, insect kibble for dogs seems to provide a balanced diet while also keeping the environment safe.
In addition to proteins, insects present in insect kibble also contain fats, carbohydrates, and vitamins. Couple this with the added nutritional value provided by potatoes, oats, and seaweed and you get pet food that is balanced and rich in nutrients.
Moreover, according to Yora, their insect kibble contains parsley and pumpkin. Parsley improves kidney health while pumpkin ensures an adequate supply of dietary fibers to keep your dog’s digestive system running smoothly.
Another good thing about Yora insect food is that it uses probiotics like Brewer’s yeast and chicory to promote the growth of good bacteria in the stomach. This means your pooch will have improved digestion and firm stools.
If you are even the least bit familiar with the vegetarian movement going on, then you may know the emphasis vegetarians put on humane food sources.
If you happen to be a vegetarian or are just thinking about the well-being of the insects, Yora claims you don’t have to. The company’s website mentions in detail the process they use to prepare the larvae for pet food.
Looking at the process closely, one thing sticks out. They are really careful about the way they treat the insects.
The company keeps insects in carefully controlled environments. Insects eat vegetable by-products. Once the eggs have matured into larvae, they are put in cold water so the larvae go into hibernation. While the larvae are in hibernation, they are put in a state of the art blender to prepare grub.
Perhaps you should pay attention to the lack of any stage that might put those into larvae into a state of hypertension. Once they are hibernating, the larvae can no longer feel their surroundings.
Is this a more humane way to kill insects than, let’s say, farm chickens? I don’t know. But one thing is certain, they treat insects much more gently than animals grown for consumption purposes.
Scientists have, for decades, debated about the possibility of humans reverting back to a diet filled with insects. And they present a pretty strong case in favor of incorporating insects in the Western diet.
For centuries, many cultures around the world have been eating insects. The idea of eating insects isn’t as pervasive in the West as it is in Asia and Africa. And this fact is stopping us from seeing the nutritional benefits that insects can offer.
Insects are incredibly nutritious. But not just that, they also contain a considerable amount of antioxidants. Antioxidants are nutrients that fight aging and are overall responsible for a healthy lifestyle. As a result, pet foods with insects can be a great source of antioxidants for your dog. Insects with the most antioxidants include grasshoppers, silkworms, and crickets.
Challenges Associated With Insect-Based Pet Food
Insect-based pet food is still in its early stages of development. Yora Pet Food is the only option available at the time of writing and even they have been on sale for less than a year. And just like any new product, there are considerable challenges associated with it.
Mass Production is Currently Not Possible
Whenever a new process debuts in the market, production is always slow because there’s not enough demand in the market to initiate mass production.
The economic principles of demand and supply are responsible for the lack of mass production of insect kibble. The demand for insect kibble is still pretty low compared to the more established dog foods. Low demand means lesser food is prepared which drives manufacturing costs up as well.
Insect dog kibble is relatively new in the market which is the reason why its manufacturing process isn’t fully mature yet. Currently, mass production of insect-based pet food is not feasible.
But things will definitely improve as the demand picks up and the process gets refined.
Adequate Machinery Isn’t Available
Rearing insects for use in pet food is still relatively new. Insects can be reared in a controlled environment. And that requires a considerable amount of modern technology.
Temperature, humidity, nutrients, and the overall climate to sustain the consistent production of larvae are pretty challenging factors to maintain. All of these things require extensive use of machinery.
Machinery manufacturers need to sustain their production lines. And even increase them, to become more profitable, while still in the process of improving the equipment sold. So, this is also proving to be a major roadblock to overcome.
Moving ahead, if and when adequate machinery becomes available, we will see production ramping up, consequently driving prices down.
Separate Enclosure for Each Life Stage of Insects
The issue of mass-producing insect kibble continues when we look at the space we need to rear insects in. The space to rear insects is far less than to nurture farm animals but still poses a challenge.
Each stage of an insect’s lifecycle has to be carried out in a separate enclosure. The climate needed for raising pupa differs from that needed for raising larvae. Similarly, the nutritional requirements of eggs are different than larvae. Considering all of this, it is no wonder that production is slow.
Although conditions are expected to improve, the current low demand limits manufacturing capacity.
Shelf-Life of Insects
Finally, the roadblock that will directly influence the consumers is the shelf-life of dog food with critters.
Consumers always consider the shelf-life when purchasing dog food. Although insect dog food reviews have been positive, there is still not much data to accurately determine the shelf-life of dog insect kibble like that of Yora Pet Food.
As more consumers buy and use insect kibble, we will better understand its shelf-life. Although as things are, it looks like the shelf-life of insect kibble will be less than traditional dog foods.
Insect Kibble for Dogs – FAQs
In this piece, we’ve tried covering everything related to insect kibble. However, since it’s a relatively new concept, consumers still have a lot of questions and confusion about it. Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about insect kibble for dogs.
Can my dog eat insects?
Technically dogs can eat insects as long as these insects are not toxic. This includes grasshoppers, cicadas, and other common bugs. However, this question has sparked a lot of debate in the dog world.
Insects are a pretty good source of protein. The proteins they contain boast complex amino acid structures. Couple that with healthy fats and nutrients like Omega-3 and you can see why letting your dog eat insects is a good idea.
But you never want your dog to eat too much. Insects contain extra protein, but they also have a lot of other nutrients inside that can upset your dog’s stomach. If your dog eats too much, he can have an upset stomach, leading to vomiting and diarrhea. So, if you want to give your pup some insects as snacks, just be moderate.
What insects can be used in dog food?
There are a whole host of insects that are safe for use in dog food. Some of these insects are crickets, black soldier fly larvae, cockroaches, and mealworm larvae.
Out of all of these insects, Black Soldier Fly larvae are the only insects that make an appearance in a commercial product. They contain a healthy quantity of proteins, fats, essential nutrients like Omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins. Yora Pet Food uses these larvae in their insect kibble and they have proven to be pretty successful.
Can dogs live without meat?
Dogs are omnivores and therefore can live without meat on a vegetarian diet. However, a dog requires a good amount of protein to remain healthy. For dogs, such quantities of proteins are hard to come by when on a strictly vegetarian diet. Meat is essential in maintaining a healthy and properly functioning body in dogs.
So, yes dogs can live on a vegetarian diet but for optimal functioning, they need protein that is provided by meat. This meat-based protein doesn’t necessarily need to come from traditional meat sources but can also be found in insects.
Today, insect kibble is not easily accessible for the everyday consumer. However, it is becoming more and more of a solution for the future. Insect kibble for dogs has plenty of environmental and health benefits while showing few pitfalls.