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The suitability of insects in dog food


Australian consumer preferences towards edible insects are changing. Whilst there are compelling environmental, nutritional and economic benefits, overcoming the perceived insect 'ick factor' remains a challenge.

To manage this, at Buggy Bix we purposely chose the dog treat category as a soft entry point to introduce insects into the pet food market. Mealworms and Black Soldier Fly Larvae are our insects of choice. But what makes them suitable for dogs? We’re glad you asked! The following reasons have been compiled to assist understand insects in the pet food context.

1. Nutritional Profile

Both mealworms and black soldier fly larvae are packed with nutrients which are beneficial for dogs. When launching Buggy Bix we wanted to provide our customers with complete nutritional transparency. To highlight the positive nutritional profile we had our products lab tested and a nutritional panel completed to a human standard. What did we confirm? Both mealworms and black soldier fly larvae are high in protein and contain all essential amino acids, minerals and vitamins such as zinc, copper and magnesium. Additionally, they contain a number of fatty acids which are beneficial for intestinal health making them a great complement to 'traditional' dog foods. 

2. Bioavailability

Bioavailability is both the rate and degree at which a substance is absorbed into the circulatory system. Research indicates digestion and absorption of mealworms and black soldier fly larvae is comparable, and in some instances, higher than traditional protein sources. As an example, studies have demonstrated copper, zinc, manganese, magnesium, and calcium sourced from mealworms is more readily available for absorption than the same nutrients in beef. This has been replicated in digestive studies confirming no discernable difference in the fecal matter of dogs that consumed an insect based food.

3. Hypoallergenic properties

Dietary intolerances can cause a multitude of problems from skin irritations to gastrointestinal issues in dogs. Mealworms and black soldier fly larvae are considered novel protein sources for pets. Consequently, their unique nature makes them great alternatives for dogs with allergies to traditional protein sources such as beef, lamb or pork. 

4. Palatability

The most important aspect influencing consumer preferences is whether their pet enjoys the taste of insect based dog foods. Fortunately our Buggy Bix taste trials confirmed dogs love the taste of our treats! Both black soldier fly larvae and mealworm tests demonstrated dogs willingly consumed both the raw insects and foods which contained insects as an ingredient. This finding was consistent with independent scientific preference test studies. The best part is that 100% of both mealworms and black soldier fly larvae can be consumed so there is no waste!

The suitability of insects as a complementary protein source in our pet’s diets is becoming more widely accepted in western cultures. As awareness of their suitability grows, so too does the level of interest in insect based pet food. Interestingly, after launching Buggy Bix we found having a tangible product that our customers can touch, feel and feed to their pets has accelerated the discussion in a positive way. As consumer preferences and attitudes change, it is looking more likely that insects will be a mainstream option for pet owners.


References:

Beynen, A.C. (2018). Insect-based Pet Food. Creature Companion, 9 (40).

Mueller, R. S., Olivry, T., & Prélaud, P. (2016). Critically appraised topic on adverse food reactions of companion animals (2): common food allergen sources in dogs and cats. BMC Vet Res, 12(1).

Melgar‐Lalanne, G., Hernández‐Álvarez, A., Salinas‐Castro, A. (2019). Edible Insects Processing: Traditional and Innovative Technologies. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 18(4).


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