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  • Writer's pictureDr. Carol Hughes

Should dogs eat insects?

Updated: Apr 27, 2023

I’m not against animals/humans eating insects, I am against intensely farmed processed ingredients of any kind, if only because these tend to reduce the biodiversity of the microbiome of the gut predisposing the dog to ill health.

I’m confident that the pet food manufacturers will care enough about the welfare and health of pets to do the screening/testing/ research required to ensure any intensely farmed food item (including insects) is safe.

However, so far there seems to be only good news from industry/veterinary with reference to the use of insects, so sorry to put my head above the parapet and be the bearer of the not-so-good news ........

One of the more popular components is Black Soldier Fly, these are ground to make a powder and frozen to be used when needed. The microbiome of the BSF is completely dominated by Actinomyces, Dysgonomonas sp. and Enterococcus, all of these bacteria can survive freezing, grinding and any other adverse event you can throw at them.

Roughly 11,000 insects make up a kilo of insect meal, that’s a significant increase in opportunistic pathogenic bacteria already known to cause diseases in dogs, mainly urinary tract infections but also linked to gastric discomfort.

This year we have seen an unusual increase in levels of Actinomyces, we have been analysing the canine microbiome since 2018, and actinomycetes have been present in the biome at levels below 0.05%, for some reason, there has been a recent increase in some dogs to 5-7%.

Actinomycetes are well-known for producing biologically active secondary metabolites like antibiotics, biopesticide agents, plant growth hormones, antitumor compounds, antiviral agents, pharmacological compounds, pigments, enzymes, enzyme inhibitors, anti-inflammatory compounds, single-cell protein feed, and biosurfactants.

At face value, these bacteria seem to have a benign effect on the microbiome when present at low levels, but no-one currently understands what happens when percentages increase, though I suspect the Jekyll and Hyde effect will come into play (when good gut bacteria become bad as percentages increase).

We’ll keep you posted…..

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