Dog owners looking to provide their furry companions with an alternative protein sources will be interested to learn of the benefits that one unconventional option has to offer: crickets.
While the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has yet to define crickets as a viable option for pet food, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has minimal concern regarding human consumption of the insect. The FDA only advises that manufacturers ensure that the insects are cleaned and processed properly.
According to Petfood Industry, Chris Mahlberg, co-founder of EntoBento cricket-based dog treats, claims that, “the biggest challenge [to overcoming the ick-factor of crickets] is perception.” This is because you can often see some of the ingredients in the product — seeing bug legs and bodies turns some consumers off. Pet food providers try to help consumers overcome their perception of crickets by making their products smell and look appealing. Consumers might also be won over after learning of the protein source’s animal welfare benefits, nutrition aspects, and sustainability factors.
It has been found that dogs are most often allergic to beef, chicken, lamb, soy, and fish. Crickets have proven to be a substitute for dogs who have allergies to provide them the protein and nutrients they need to stay healthy.
- Crickets are dense in protein (63 grams per 100 gram serving)
- Crickets are lean
- Crickets have twice as much iron as traditional ingredients, like beef
- Crickets have a high omega-3 fatty acid content
Sustainability of crickets
- A single pound of crickets requires one gallon of water to raise, compared to thousands for conventional meat
- Cricket production creates very little methane gas
- Crickets are small and can be raised in stackable containers, requiring little space
Considering these nutritional and environmental benefits, as well as meeting the needs of a growing pet population, many say it’s just a matter of time before the protein source becomes further defined, and that it may someday be further evaluated by AAFCO.