Insect Dog Food

Photo by Kabo on Unsplash

Dogs have always been raised on a meat rich diet, but does that need to change due to the large Carbon footprint that this creates? The pet food industry in the US is worth over $42 billions a year and is expected to grow to $44billion by the end of 2021.  In NZ we spend in excess of $200 million dollars a year, that’s 43,000 tonnes on our dog food and treats. And we spend $275 million dollars on our cat food and treats which is a staggering 30,000 tonnes a year.

The production and processing of meat for dog food is becoming an increasing problem on a global scale. With mounting pressure on farmers, due to climate change and habitat preservation to change their practices, the demand for meat may not be met in the future. So an alternative needs to be found to meet the demand soon.

Enter the INSECT world.

In August this year the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) approved the use of Black Soldier Fly larvea for the use of adult dog food and it’s expected to be approved for cats by 2022. Also approved for use in Europe. Other insects expected to be approved are crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, sikworms and termites.

Environmental Benefits

  • The impact on the environment, insect production has been shown to use substantially fewer resources in terms of land than livestock or agricultural sources, 
  • Insects need much less water during growth,
  • Insects create much less waste or greenhouse gasses, than traditional livestock production. Some of which, called Frass could be used for biogas production.
  • Insects can eat by-products from our foods industry.

Nutritional Benefits

  • Insects are extremely rich in protein, about 30-65% dry weight – 30-60% wet weight which is much higher than plant proteins.
  • Insects are extremely rich in fats, they have a larger proportion of unsaturated fats to saturated fats.
  • Insects are a good source of carbohydrates. However the carbohydrate digestibility varies. There exo skeleton (chitin) could be a problem for dogs.
  • Insects are a good source of vitamins and minerals such as iron, zinc,calcium, copper, magnesium, manganese. A similar iron content to beef!

A prime candidate at the moment, which has already been used in adult dog food in Canada – Hope Pet food, is Hermetia illucens, the Black Soldier fly larvae. One american company described how 1 acre of land would normally produce about 190 pounds of beef or 265 pounds of chicken. In contrast the same 1 acre would support 130,000 pounds of Soldier Fly larvae, that’s nearly a 500 times increase.

    Hope Pet foods claim that their insect food has:

    • 9x the omega 3 contect that Salmon, 
    • More Iron than Spinach,
    • 2x the protein of beef,
    • More calcium than milk.
    Soldier Fly - Pet Food

    Black Soldier Fly (

    Hermetiaillucens - Pet Food

    Black Soldier Fly Larvae (

    Although dog food solely made from insects is not available in New Zealand at the time of this post, over the next few years I’m sure we will begin to see more insect based alternatives being sold and developed in the New Zealand market.

    Reference : Kim, Tae-Kyung & Yong, Hae In & Kim, Young-Boong & Kim, Hyun-Wook & Choi, Yun-Sang. (2019). Edible Insects as a Protein Source: A Review of Public Perception, Processing Technology, and Research Trends. food science of animal resources. 39. 10.5851/kosfa.2019.e53. 

    Website :