Ever walk outside to check on your dog only to find them chowing down on some poor bug? We’ve all been there!
Dogs have a seemingly endless appetite for all things gross. Bugs are just one of the many disgusting things dogs will try to eat.
Some dog owners will shrug it off and not worry about a thing. However, others will go into full protection mode and start panicking when they hear the distinct crunch of a creepy crawler.
So, can dogs eat bugs, and should you be worried if they do?
The Inside Scoop on Bug-Eating
Dogs eat bugs for a myriad of reasons.
Let’s face it: Your canine companion is hard to read as it is. It is impossible to attempt to get in their head and figure out why they find gross insects so appealing. But we can make an educated guess!
Most behavioralists and veterinary professionals believe it has to do with pure curiosity.
It’s a combination of their inherent prey drive and the medley of sensory experiences they get from interacting with a bug.
That subtle movement of the ground is enough to attract little Fido, and the unique smells and sounds cause them to investigate further. Once they decide to take a bite, the taste and texture will seal the deal.
Of course, all bugs are different. Whether or not your dog’s bug-eating habits become regular depends on their experiences.
If they eat a nasty bug that makes them sick, they’ll become more inclined to be cautious.
But if they experience no ill effects, your pup could start spending his potty breaks looking for a bug to snack on!
Is It Dangerous for Dogs to Eat Imsects?
Here’s the million-dollar question.
Unfortunately, it’s not a question with a straightforward answer.
The insect world is one of the most diverse. Some bugs are perfectly safe for your dog to eat. Heck, there are several insects that humans eat regularly!
But many bugs come with serious health risks. Some are toxic enough to cause stomach issues, while others carry the risk of parasitic infection.
There’s tons of variety even in your backyard.
14 Insects Your Dog Should Never Eat
Some of the bugs lurking in your backyard can do a lot of harm to your canine companion. Even the innocent ones could be hiding a potentially dangerous secret.
Here are some of the bugs your pooch should avoid at all costs!
#1. June Bugs
Did you know that a June bug is a type of scarab beetle?
These tough-shelled insects come in a variety of colors. However, the most recognizable has a shimmering green exoskeleton.
It’s beautiful enough to catch your eye, so imagine how appealing it is to a dog! Unfortunately, June bugs are known to cause stomach issues. One or two June bugs won’t cause much trouble. But if your pup has a lot of them, they can cause diarrhea and vomiting.
Grasshoppers are another innocent-looking bug your dog should avoid. There are a couple of issues with these hoppers.
First, they can carry parasites and worms. They can become a secondary host to the parasite, paving the way to use your dog’s body as a host!
Secondly, grasshoppers often hop through fields treated with insecticides and other chemicals. They can hold those toxins onto their bodies for your dog to consume.
Roaches are gross little buggers that can appear anywhere.
They can live outside under yard debris, making them pretty easy to find. If you live in a warm and humid environment, they can live out in the open.
The issue with cockroaches is that they eat everything. Seriously! These bugs can eat decaying garbage, feces, and every other gross thing you can think up.
There’s a very high risk of disease and parasite transmission.
This one’s a no-brainer.
Ever see what happens when a dog gets stung by a bee on the snout? It’s surprisingly common and causes a dog to look like a cartoon due to all the swelling.
Technically, bees are safe to eat if your dog swallows it whole while avoiding the stinger. But the chances of that happening are pretty low.
The venous flying insects are notoriously defensive and will sting your dog the moment it tries to snatch them out of the sky.
You’ve probably seen dog products that prevent ticks from biting.
But what about the other way around?
Well, ticks are dangerous no matter how they interact with your pup.
Even if Fido eats the tick, they can experience parasitic infections, Lyme disease, and even paralysis! They’re dangerous blood-suckers that your dog needs to avoid
Fleas have much of the same risk as mosquitos.
Many people believe that fleas are nothing more than a nuisance. But in reality, they can be parasite carriers.
Instead of heartworms, fleas carry tapeworms.
The most common way dogs get tapeworm is by eating an infected flea while biting the skin. Several weeks later, the tapeworm can grow so much that it starts to appear in feces!
Related: How to Get Rid of Fleas on Dogs
Contrary to popular belief, mosquitoes aren’t always tiny.
Big species exist, too. They do as much damage and carry as many risks as the small suckers.
Mosquitos carry heartworms. All it takes is a mosquito sucking your dog’s blood to transmit it into their system. Imagine what happens if they eat the entire mosquito!
Butterflies look innocent enough. However, they consume milkweed to survive.
Milkweed is dangerous for dogs. It contains harmful toxins that can cause, mild tremors, full-blown seizures, and other issues.
While they can avoid eating milkweed directly, consuming butterflies will get those toxins into the system.
#9. Stink Bugs
Stink bugs are some of the most nauseating around.
If you’ve ever had the displeasure of crushing one, you know why they have their name!
The good news is that eating stink bugs won’t cause any long-term damage to your pup’s health. However, the bad news is that they will experience acute discomfort ranging from an irritating stomach to vomiting.
Caterpillars are a no-go, too.
They might look like innocent grub, but these insects cause some issues. Hairy-looking caterpillars have rigid hair that can get stuck in your dog’s system and cause irritation.
Not only that, but some caterpillars survive on milkweed.
As we mentioned earlier with butterflies, milkweed can be downright dangerous for your dog’s nervous system.
Not all spiders are dangerous. But many of them are.
Venomous species like Black Widows and Brown Recluse have enough venom to send a human to the hospital. If your dog consumes the toxin, there’s a genuine risk they might die.
You can’t regulate what spiders they eat, so it’s safer to train them to avoid these bugs at all costs.
Cicadas are massive insects that dogs seem to love. There’s something about their unique texture that drives canines up the wall.
There’s no inherent risk, as cicadas have no harmful toxins.
However, eating too much of them could cause stomach upsets. Their tough exoskeleton could be an issue for some dogs by becoming a choking hazard.
Ants can cause a lot of trouble due to their stinging and biting power.
Interestingly, ants aren’t inherently dangerous. So you could feed dried ants to your dog without an issue.
But they should avoid live ants. They can easily swarm and sting your dog hundreds of times.
We’re cheating a bit here!
Technically speaking, slugs aren’t insects. But they live among insects in your backyard, so it’s an important concern to have.
Slugs can carry lungworm larvae.
If your dog eats an infected slug, the parasite can cause respiratory diseases, internal hemorrhaging, and death.
Are Any Bugs Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Many bugs won’t cause an issue if your pup eats them.
In fact, many civilizations around the world have bugs as part of the average food chain. They can be a valuable source of fiber and protein.
Flies, moths, grasshoppers, and termites are all safe.
Mealworms can be a tasty treat, too. They have a decent amount of fat and protein in them.
We recommend avoiding earthworms, as they have the same issue as roaches and other insects that live in filth.
Should You Let Your Dog Eat Bugs?
The list of potentially dangerous bugs is pretty long. But in the grand scheme of things, most of the insects in your backyard are relatively safe for your pup to eat.
But does that mean you should let them chow down?
We don’t recommend it. Dogs don’t understand the difference between a venomous spider and an innocent mealworm. It’s all a unique experience for them.
Because dogs have a habit of finding and eating bugs in mere seconds, your pooch can quickly consume a dangerous bug without you realizing it.
It’s best to prevent bug-eating as much as possible.
Teach your dog early on that’s it’s not OK to eat insects. By avoiding all bugs, you can rest easy knowing that your furry friend didn’t eat a dangerous one!
You might see your dog munching on a crunchy bug and chalk it up to dogs being dogs. But there are plenty of reasons to be concerned.
Some bugs will cause serious health issues like parasitic infections, allergic reactions, and gastrointestinal upsets.
While some bugs are safe to eat, the best way to avoid trouble is to teach your pup not to eat bugs at all.
Focus their attention on high-protein snacks instead. They’re much healthier and give you the peace of mind and control you’re after.