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Can it be a problem if your dog eats insects?


Animal diseases

Can it be a problem if your dog eats insects?

If you see that your dog eats insects, you may have wondered if everyone else does. A healthy dog ​​will be attentive to its surroundings, so every bug that invades its space can be a victim of its instincts.

In general, dogs have no problem eating flies, earthworms, crickets, spiders, grasshoppers and other insects.. In reality, most will only give you a pinch of extra protein that won’t harm them.

However, there are exceptions: Some insects can be toxic or transmit parasites. Here are some of the most common insects that are not safe for the canine palate.

1. Caterpillars

Some caterpillars are able to sting or inject poison into a curious dog. Such is the case of processionary caterpillars (Thaumetopoea pityocampa).

The caterpillar produces several injuries in dogs. Caterpillar hairs can stick in the mouth and throat and make a dog cough, retch and saliva.

The tongue, mouth, esophagus and stomach become inflamed. At one point, the dog cannot breathe, and may die. If the dog has sucked the caterpillar, the tongue may become necrotic, losing almost the entire organ.


If your dog eats insects, it could attract fireflies. These striking insects are beetles of the family of lampyrids (Lampyridae). They stand out for having the property of emitting light – a phenomenon known as bioluminescence – this property makes them unforgettable.

Its flashing light fascinates us as they float within reach of us and our dogs. The light produced is a way of communication and through it they attract companion to mate and warn predators to stay away.

These insects can perform a defense trick, called reflex bleeding. This mechanism allows them to deliberately expel their hemolymph (insect blood). Hemolymph contains toxic compounds called lucibufagins, which are cardiotonic steroids and constitute an effective defense mechanism.

If your dog takes a snack of fireflies, it can end with digestive discomfort including vomiting and lack of appetite.

3. Monarch Butterfly, Caterpillars

Monarch Butterfly Worm

The monarch butterflies (Danaus plexippus) are traditionally seen as toxic and taste unpleasant. This is thanks to the fact that their main larval food plants (Asclepiadaceae and Apocynaceae) contain toxic compounds – known as cardenolides – that the butterflies kidnap and store for their own defense.

Such compounds are not toxic to the monarch butterfly, as it is to birds, dogs, cats and other animals. Fortunately, it is rare for a dog to eat the plant, the caterpillar or the butterfly, because all three have a very bitter taste.

If you think your pet has eaten a monarch caterpillar or a butterfly, it is important to take it to the vet immediately. Symptoms include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Sickness
  • Excessive drooling

Notablythe symptoms become more severe as the poison begins to affect the heart. When this happens, the poison causes abnormal heart rhythm, tremor, weakness, dilated pupils, seizures and death if left untreated.

4. Flying beetles, bed bugs and cicadas

Although these insects are not toxic and will not bite or sting your pet,if you eat them in large quantities, they can cause stomach upset, vomiting and diarrhea. Bed bugs have an unpleasant taste and can cause a dog to drool or vomit after biting one.

Occasionally, if your dog eats insects, you can get too excited about them and chew them as if they were buttered popcorn. Eating too many insects can cause a hard mass called “bezoar” to form in the stomach or any other part of the digestive tract of your dog. Being possible that surgery is required to eliminate it.

Sometimes, in the gastrointestinal tract, a cluster of non-digestible materials can be formed, which is called bezoar. This mass is formed from something like a large plant fiber, hairs or parts of insects.

Most bezoars pass through the intestinal system without treatment, but some can become so dangerously large, that they must be removed surgically.

5. Asian ladybug

The multicolored Asian ladybug (Harmonia axyridis) is native to East Asia. It was introduced in the United States between 1978 and 1981 to control agricultural pests such as aphids and scaly insects. Today she became a plague herself.

In Spain it is considered a serious threat to native species and ecosystems. For this reason, it was included in the Spanish Catalog of Invasive Exotic Species, approved by Royal Decree 630/2013, August 2.

This insect also has reflex bleeding, secreting hemolymph with its toxic alkaloid content, when it is attacked. The intake of this insect can cause chemical burns in the mouth and gastrointestinal tract of a pet.

6. Spiders and bees

Although they are not insects but arachnids, Poisonous spiders such as the black widow, as well as bees or wasps can be dangerous if ingested. After a first bite, hopefully your dog will learn to leave those pests alone.

Black widow in a spider web.

Ingest a load of parasites

Keep in mind that some insects carry parasites. So, Your dog can get intestinal worms by eating beetles, cockroaches and crickets, and eating fleas can cause tapeworm infections..

The tendency to eat insects is a good reason to maintain certain preventive measures throughout the year. This will reduce the risk of infection with parasites.

If your dog’s snack habits bother you, Keep insects at bay by cutting and raking your lawn on a regular basis to reduce litter and related. Keep a close eye on your pet and contact your veterinarian if you see that a bug has been eaten.

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