Why We Have Switched Our Dog To Insect-Based Dog Food

insect-based dog food in a hand

Choosing the right dog food isn’t always an easy process. There are so many on the market that claim to do so much for your pooch, that state they are the best, are well-known names, are endorsed by *insert famous person’s name*, not to mention the varying price points but how do you know what is the right one for your dog? It’s not always straightforward as we found out. This is how and why we switched our dog over to insect-based dog food.

Food Sensitivities and Allergies

We had a really tricky period with food when we first brought Tessa home. Even though the breeders told us she was on Pedigree, we could immediately see that this was causing terrible diarrhoea and we even found that putting her onto the classic chicken and rice to help with this made things even worse! After a chat with the vet, a lot of back and forth at the pet shop, and trying different foods, we finally settled on a grain-free brand that she actually seemed to like and that cleared up all of her tummy issues. The results were showing and she started to put weight back on and looked much healthier. It had been a really worrying time but I felt that we had finally got her to the best…

Tessa on a beach

Further Allergy Type Symptoms

Until I noticed that her itching hadn’t subsided. Food allergies in dogs can present in several ways and it was clear that we had seen a lot in Tessa – diarrhoea, itchy skin, dull coat, nibbling, hair loss and lack of energy. We were getting there but there was something that was clearly still bothering her and we soon realised that that something was the meat. We had already determined that chicken didn’t agree with her (and she refused to eat any fish based foods) but it seemed to be the case that other meats would upset her too. I mean it wasn’t like she was scratching herself red raw but it was just enough to notice that she was doing it too often and in particular places and, as a pet owner, I wanted to try and see if I could make things even better for her.

But Dogs Need Meat, Don’t They?!

There is a common misconception that dogs need meat in order to be healthy but in actual fact, as long as they are provided with the right amount of carbohydrates, protein, fat, calcium, vitamins and minerals they can and will thrive.

The PDSA state:

“Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat both meat and plant-based foods. As long as you buy a complete commercial food appropriate for your dog’s age and lifestyle, your dog will be getting all the nutrients they need whether you’re feeding meat or not”

Tessa looking up and licking her lips from eating

We more often than not associate protein with being provided by a meat source but it is present in soy, chickpeas, cheese, eggs, quinoa, pasta, barley and oats etc. Ok, so a lot of these are grains and as my dog can’t have these I am simply using them as some examples to show that meat isn’t the be all and end all for getting protein into a diet (and remember vegetarians and vegans get protein from other sources and live very healthy lives too). Thankfully in recent years, there has been a massive breakthrough in finding a high protein source elsewhere and that is via insects. Yes, I did say insects…

Insect-Based Dog Food

There are more than 2000 edible insect species that are consumed around the world with the most commonly eaten being beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, termites, flies and spiders – in some cultures, this is their normal way of obtaining protein in their diet and always has been. Did you know that insects actually contain almost all the nutritional benefits that you get from eating meat, fish and rye bread all at once?! In fact, there have been many studies on this and one that has been published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that “insects contain values of between 9.96 and 35.2 grams of protein per 100 grams, compared with 16.8-20.6 grams for meat” so if you are choosing the right insect protein to consume you will most certainly be able to argue that your protein intake is higher than if you were to eat a steak. A little bit of food for thought there.

And so, taking all of this into account, many new dog food companies are leading the way by using insect-based protein as the main bulk of their complete meals. Oh, and you’ll be pleased to hear that it’s not only great for your dog’s health but it is also great for the planet!

Sustainability

A few facts that may well surprise you:

  • 20% of all of the world’s fish and meat is consumed by our pets
  • 106 million tonnes of CO2 is generated every year by the pet food industry
  • In 2020, researchers found that it takes an area twice the size of the UK to satisfy the world’s demand for pet food
  • A dog living an unsustainable lifestyle could well produce more than twice the amount of CO2 than that of a 4×4 car

**For more tips and eco products/swaps I have another article on being an eco-friendly dog owner here.**

Let’s compare insect facts with meat facts:

CO2 Producing 1 kg of protein from insects causes emissions of as little as 1 g of CO2

For meat – Producing 1 kg of protein from beef emits approximately 2.850 g of CO2

Water To produce 1 kg of protein from insects requires approximately 5 litres of water, however, many insects themselves do not require any water or even any light whilst they are farmed

For meat – Around 15.500 litres of water is needed to produce 1 kg of protein from beef

Feed Insects require around 1.7 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of protein and this will be organic matter

For meat – Cattle need on average 20 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of protein

Land Producing insects requires approximately 3.5 m2 per kg of insect protein

For meat – 250 m2 of land is used per kg of beef protein and on top of this, it is estimated that around seven football fields of land are bulldozed worldwide every single minute to create more room because there are now more farmed animals on the planet than there are humans. Plus we need land to grow the feed for them.

If you swapped over to insect-based meals looking at all of the above information, you would be helping to use 47x less land, 25x less CO2 and 25x less water compared to meat. Another reason why switching to insect-based dog food was the right move for us.

Switching To Insect-Based Dog Food

I became aware of Grub Club in 2021 when they asked me to review their insect-based dog treats. Their sustainability ethos and ethics really stood out to me and I loved the fact that they were so passionate about their new brand. We gave their treats a go and they got a huge thumbs up from us. No unwanted reactions from Tessa and she really enjoyed them so when they extended their range to include a complete dog food I knew it was worth a shot.

I gradually introduced her new food in with her old one across 7 days (as they suggest) just to make absolutely sure that this was the right move for her and sure enough, it was. We are now a few months down the line and we haven’t seen any tummy issues, she enjoys her meals AND her itching has completely calmed down plus her coat is much shinier.

Just as Grub Club state on their website…

“As a novel source of protein, insect meal is hypoallergenic for our pets, which is great news for sensitive tummies and itchy skin. It’s a great alternative for dogs that suffer from meat-related allergies. It’s also rich in omegas and healthy fats, which support soft skin and shiny coats”

me holding the Grub Club insect-based dog food in my hand

(this is not an ad, I purchased the food myself and will continue to do so)

By making this switch I have managed to help my dog’s health and made another brilliant eco swap which will help to lower my carbon footprint.

So, what are your thoughts? Would you switch your dog over to insect-based dog food?

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