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Feeding my dog insect protein reduced his skin irritation — here's how it works

After feeding Fred cricket-protein for a few months, he has completely stopped scratching himself.

Feeding my dog insect protein; Insect Dog food

Photo Credit: Cole Patterson

My dog, Fred, does a lot of cute stuff. He hops like a bunny in tall grass, he kinda grumbles instead of barking, and he hunts bugs. He'll see one fly by, pounce, and miss it by a mile. Then, when he actually gets one in his mouth, he just opens up and lets them fly away. So I shouldn't have been surprised when he went wild for cricket protein dog food.

After Fred scratched his chest incessantly for months, our veterinarian recommended that we supplement his food with an alternative protein. These kibbles typically have fewer of the type of ingredients that you can't pronounce but that can trigger an allergic reaction. The vet then went on to rave about insect-based dog foods, cricket protein in particular.

Bugs skeeve a lot of people out. Fair. That said, eating insects may be the key to solving world hunger, sustainably. For one, crickets are a superfood. They're a complete protein with every essential amino acid. Crickets are also packed with vitamins and minerals.

Beyond their nutritional benefits, cricket farming also produces ZERO waste. That's because insect-based dog foods use the entire animal. The insects are roasted and ground into a fine powder. That high-protein powder is then used in treats and kibble as part of a holistic diet.

"But," you say, "how big of an impact could my pet really have?" Well, buckle up. 

Cole dog,Feeding my dog insect protein; Insect Dog food
Photo Credit: Cole Patterson

In the U.S., our pets consume about a quarter of the calories derived from livestock. That would rank fifth in global meat consumption if American pets counted as a nation, behind only the U.S., China, Russia, and Brazil.

According to UCLA professor Gregory Okin, cats and dogs are responsible for 25 to 30% of the environmental impact of meat consumption in the United States. Meat requires an enormous amount of land and water to produce when compared to a plant-based diet. The livestock industry also has devastating environmental consequences in terms of waste and pollution.

With many pet foods containing human-grade meat, what is a pet lover to do? Enter Anne Carlson, the founder and CEO of Jiminy's, a cricket-based dog food company. She found crickets to be an ideal protein because they could provide near-complete nutrition. Jiminy's sells dog treats and wet and dry dog food in stores across the U.S. 

It would take a biblical plague of insects to feed the pets of the world. Luckily, Jiminy's is up to the task. 

Consider an acre of land. A livestock farmer could use that space to produce about 192 pounds of beef protein. A cricket farmer could use that same acre to produce more than 1 million pounds of insect protein.

Photo Credit: Jiminy's

While insect protein has started to generate some "mainstream" hype, an insectivorous diet is nothing new. Cuisines across Asia, Africa, and South America have featured insects for eons. Still, many people turn green at the prospect of eating bugs. 

As Fred can attest, dogs aren't so picky.

After feeding Fred cricket-protein for a few months, he has completely stopped scratching himself. He seems more trim and healthy looking, and our vet said he has reached his perfect weight. And most importantly, as any dog owner would agree, his poops are consistently solid (10/10). 

He still goes wild for the cricket treats too. He may even prefer them to his beloved Greenies …

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