Maybe the better question is, is it safe for dogs to eat bugs?
Because I know all too well that yes, they can and will eat insects.
Of all of the dogs I’ve shared my life with, I have had two bug eaters. One grew out of it, and one still loves the little creepy crawlies.
Daisy was the first bug eater, but she was a puppy and only ate dragonflies.
She would snap at other bugs, but for whatever reason, she would eat the dragonflies.
I tried to get her to stop, and eventually, after she got sick from eating too many (BTW, so gross), she finally resisted the flying delicacies.
However, Ginger has a less discernible palate when it comes to bugs.
Essentially, if it’s moving, she will eat it. Ginger doesn’t care if it stings, flies, or crawls.
Thankfully, she doesn’t eat them in mass quantity, so she hasn’t gotten sick, and somehow she hasn’t been stung.
But I imagine there are bugs out there that aren’t safe to eat, and since we travel with our dogs a lot, I thought I would try and see if there were any that I should watch out for, to ensure Ginger doesn’t mess with anything worse than a bee.
Why Do Dogs Eat Bugs?
The short, easy answer is: Because they are dogs.
The actual answer is that no one other than dogs knows why they are intrigued by moving critters, and likely curiosity gets the best of them.
Dogs explore their world differently than humans, and part of the way they take in the world is through their mouth.
There is no rhyme or reason as to why some dogs eat bugs and others do not.
Can Dogs Eat Bugs?
It depends on the bug and how much your dog chooses to eat.
Some insects are fine for the most part, whereas others are toxic or even venomous.
I have noted some of the more common bugs that dogs sometimes choose to dine on.
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Can Dogs Eat Ants?
Fire ants will not only sting our dogs, but they often do so in large numbers.
A dog’s face and feet are the most likely areas that are affected by ant bites.
Symptoms your dog has eaten or tried to eat fire ants include:
- Facial Swelling – Which can lead to breathing issues
- Lameness – If your dog was bitten on their the feet or legs
- Pale Gums
- Pawing at their face or rubbing their face
- In the event of an allergic reaction – Hives or Anaphylactic reaction
- Collapse or Weakness
Related: Keep Ants Out of Dog Food Bowls
Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?
Cicadas are not toxic, nor do they bite or sting.
If your pooch decides to try one of these crunchy creatures, the most significant risk is stomach upset.
However, if they find them to be tasty and eat too many, the exoskeletons can become an issue since they are difficult to digest.
Can Dogs Eat Flies?
Much like the ant, the common housefly is non-toxic and lacks a stinger.
However, there are more than just houseflies, and some of those like deer and horse flies have quite a bite.
Also, fireflies, though they don’t bite, they do contain a toxin called lucibufagin, which can cause dogs to become sick to their stomach.
Can Dogs Eat Caterpillars?
Not all, but many of the different types of caterpillars can be troublesome if not dangerous to eat.
Some of the caterpillars that will be more than just distasteful are:
- Saddleback Caterpillar – This caterpillar can be identified by its bright green torso, with a brown oval in the middle, giving it the look of a saddle. Also, it has spines all along its sides and horns, and the spines are poisonous.
- Monkey Slug Caterpillar – This caterpillar looks more like a giant hairy spider, but it is actually a hairy caterpillar. Whether or not the caterpillar’s hairs sting or not is debatable, but what is for sure is that this prickly menace can cause discomfort to your pup if eaten. The Monkey Slug can cause your dog to choke, drool, or gag.
- Monarch Caterpillar – Because these caterpillars eat milkweed, they contain a toxin called cardenolides. Cardenolides can cause heart issues, including stopping the heart. The good news is that dogs often spit these critters out due to their bitter taste. The danger of eating these caterpillars extends to their butterfly form as well.
- Puss Moth Caterpillars – If the name doesn’t warn you to keep your dog from eating this fellow, its venomous nature should.
- And More – Other caterpillars to keep your dog away are Io moth, Gypsy moth, Buck moth, and Flannel moth.
Can Dogs Eat Cockroaches, Fleas, Beetles, Grasshoppers, and Crickets?
What do these five bugs have in common?
They all have the potential for carrying stomach worms, and when a dog eats any of these bugs, those worms can pass along to the dog.
Keep your dog from munching these pests if you can.
Can Dogs Eat June Bugs?
Though not toxic, June bugs consumed in large quantities can cause an upset stomach.
Can Dogs Eat Spiders?
It depends on the spider.
If the spider is a toxic or poisonous spider to us, then it isn’t one you want your dog eating.
Especially brown recluse and black widow spiders.
Can Dogs Eat Stink Bugs?
Though not toxic, due to the nasty taste, dogs have been known to experience minor adverse reactions such as drooling or even vomiting after eating stink bugs.
Can Dogs Eat Asian Lady Beetles?
You will want to keep your pup from dining on these multicolored beetles.
They can cause GI upset and even chemical burns in their mouth and GI tract.
If your dog consumes a large quantity, it can be fatal.
Is Eating Bugs Good for Dogs?
Though not all bugs are toxic, all bugs do carry a risk of coming in contact with pesticides, insecticides, and other chemicals that can cause your dog harm.
Eating one or two insects that carry harmful chemicals may not be an issue; however, excessive insect consumption could cause an adverse reaction.
What Are the Possible Dangers of Eating Bugs?
Even though some bugs may not be toxic, dogs can still have allergies to them.
Daisy was allergic to bee stings, and though she didn’t eat bees, she would snap at them from time to time.
We found out after she came in from playing in my mom’s garden that she had been stung and was having an abnormal reaction.
I rushed her to the emergency room, and they were able to help her. But, from then on, we had to always travel with an epi-pen.
So, in addition to the possible toxins, venoms, and stings, there’s always the possibility of an allergic reaction.
Another concern is if your dog consumes too many, and there is no set number to what that means, dogs can have issues with digesting the exoskeleton.
If a dog an abundance of bugs, they can end up with a bezoar, a hard mass that often requires surgical intervention.
The bezoar is the result of the non-digestible parts of bugs building up in your dog’s GI system.
How Many Bugs Can Your Dog Eat?
But if your dog does a lot will depend on:
- The size of your dog
- The size of the bug
- The type of insect
Some dogs could eat 5 ants no problem, but if they ate 5 June bugs they might be having some significant stomach issues later, so there is no set amount.
There are just too many variables.
Dog’s eat the craziest things, and though none of us want to be the helicopter dog parent, we do need to be cautious of what our dogs are putting in their mouths.
Because Ginger eats anything not nailed down, I have worked on the Off and Drop commands quite extensively.
So, if you have a dog like Ginger who thinks everything from the stuffing in toys to the bug crawling along the sidewalk looks like a potential snack, training will be the best way to keep your dog safe.
I know we can’t always be with our dogs every moment of every day, but it is a good idea to know what, if any, toxic or dangerous bugs reside in your area, just in case your pup decides to try a new all natural-style treat.