Can Dogs Eat Bugs? Stop Them From Eating Bugs

Can Dogs Eat Bugs? Photo of a dog and a bug.

As gross as we might think they are, dogs often love to poke and eat bugs. But, can dogs eat bugs? Take a look at what you need to know about your dog’s new snack below!

Dogs can, and regularly do, eat bugs! There are many reasons for this behavior. Many bugs are relatively harmless to dogs but can carry diseases. Examples of these include June bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, and houseflies.

However, some bugs are dangerous to eat, including ladybugs, spiders, bees and wasps, earthworms, slugs and snails, ladybugs, cockroaches, fleas, and stinkbugs. Everything you need to know about the potential danger of bugs is below!

Why do dogs eat bugs?

Most experts agree that there are three main reasons dogs will eat bugs, which will depend mostly on socialization, diet, and general personality! These include:

  • Curiosity/experimentation
  • Interest in the taste or texture of the bug
  • A dietary need

Curiosity/experimentation

Dogs are naturally curious creatures, as you most likely already know. They want to check out everything around them, including fascinating, creepy crawlies or flying insects. Since they use their nose to discover and investigate, a lick and chomp are common additions to their exploration! Just like babies/toddlers, that way!

This curiosity and experimentation themselves are harmless and great for their brain. You’ll just need to make sure that they eat safe bugs rather than harmful ones (more on that a little later).

Interest in the taste or texture of the bug

Again, dogs explore with their nose and mouth. A mouth for dogs is like a hand for humans. If a bug smells good and they lick it, and it tastes good, they’ll curiously snack away. As they get an appreciation for what bugs they do and don’t like, you may notice that some he’ll just eat because he simply likes them.

It looks strange to us, but it’s pretty average as far as dog behavior is concerned. Specific bugs will taste and feel good in his mouth.

A dietary need

A dog’s lizard brain will push your dog to find protein, fiber, and certain nutrients, vitamins, and minerals from bugs if they do not get enough from their classic diet. Your vet can often help you find the right kind of food for your dog to make sure this doesn’t happen, but it is crucial to think about it as an option if you notice that your dog’s suddenly started eating bugs when he previously didn’t!

As your dog’s nutritional needs are met, he’ll no longer need to “supplement” his diet with bugs and insects! Though he may enjoy a snack of them “as a treat” every once in a while!

Is it okay for a dog to eat a bug?

If you spot your dog eating bugs, your instinct probably directs you to chastise and redirect your dog’s behavior, right? It’s only normal since we’re driven by our own “lizard brains” that way! However, eating bugs isn’t a reason for concern as long as they are safe ones. For example, June bugs, grasshoppers, and crickets are all safe to eat for dogs.

Are Centipedes Poisonous to Dogs? x

Is it OK if my dog ate a fly?

Dogs find flies especially fun to eat. Firstly, the hunt is harder since they can go in all directions. The sound of flies also makes them especially appealing for your dog’s senses. As long as the flies are harmless (like houseflies or moths), this is fine, and you can be unconcerned. There are no risks to “harmless” flies like those. 

What bugs are bad for dogs to eat?

There are plenty of dangerous bugs for dogs, though, and you’ll want to make sure that you do whatever you can to prevent him from eating these dangerous bugs. These include:

  • Spiders, bees, and wasps
  • Earthworms, slugs, and snails
  • Ladybugs 
  • Cockroaches
  • Fleas
  • Stink bugs
  • Monarch caterpillars

Spiders, bees, wasps

There are many different types of spiders, of course. He should avoid eating spiders, bees, wasps, and other stinging insects at all costs. They can pass their venom on to your dog as he digests it, causing stomach sickness and severe health concerns. This is particularly so for hazardous options such as brown recluse spiders and the like.

The other part of this is that these dangerous and biting/stinging insects can sting your dog as they are fighting for their lives, and this will cause a sting or a bite in their mouth or their throat.

Earthworms, slugs, and snails

These may taste great for your dog, but they are dangerous since they often can cause lungworm in your dog since they are carriers of this. This is a serious health concern that is precisely what it sounds like. It doesn’t have many symptoms and can be fatal.

Ladybugs

These sound so innocent but can be harmful to your dog. Their discharge can cause health concerns and can irritate their mouth, cause ulcers, and more. Ladybugs are not good snacks for your dogs, even if it’s just one or two!

Cockroaches

These are a large snack for your dog but are often saturated with parasites since they feed off of feces. Never allow your dog to eat these even if they have had all of their vaccinations.

Fleas

These are much the same as cockroaches. They feed on feces and often carry parasites from one animal to the other, mainly since they spread easily and quickly from one animal to another!

Stink bugs 

These are safe in small amounts, but since they often come in swarms, you’ll most likely find that your dog will eat quite a few at once. The larger amounts can cause digestive upset, leading to vomiting and digestion problems. Your dog shouldn’t eat these, especially if they have an upset stomach normally!

Monarch caterpillars

In this case, monarch caterpillars themselves aren’t so much the problem. It’s the food that they eat — milkweed. This is toxic to dogs even in small amounts, so you’ll want to keep them from eating monarch caterpillars!

Please note that this is not a complete list! The basic rule of thumb is that anything that bites, stings, or eats feces should be on this list. If you want a local list for your climate, your vet is a great one to ask.

What happens if my dog eats one of these bugs?

In most cases, your dog will have an upset stomach if they eat these kinds of bugs, as mentioned. However, there are a few more severe complications can that can happen, including:

  • Tapeworms
  • Physaloptera
  • Parasites

What do these all have in common? Well, they’re technically all parasites. They all offer up the potential for illnesses and malnutrition. Worms are dangerous for dogs, so vets always give various kinds of vaccines and medications. 

If your dog eats those dangerous bugs with the potential for those parasites and worms, you’ll want to ask your vet about getting a booster shot and/or some medication for any possible infestation in the meantime! 

What to do if my dog eats a bug or fly

If your dog eats a bug or fly and you aren’t entirely sure whether it was a “good” one or a “bad” one as far as safety, here are some details to focus on to help you get a feel for any potential reaction:

  • Check for bites or obstructions (in the mouth and around it)
  • Watch for vomiting and lethargy
  • Bring him in to the vet if uncertain
  • Feed a bland diet to help them digest their unauthorized snack

Any time you need or want a second opinion from a vet, don’t hesitate to call them and ask for it. They might even have you bring your dog in for a check-up, just to make sure. There’s no reason that you have to go through it alone, after all! Vets will always be happy to help you out!

Do I have to let my dog eat bugs?

No, definitely not! If you don’t want your dog to eat bugs (it is kinda gross, to be sure), you can absolutely stop him from doing so. You won’t be stopping him from experiencing the authentic dog life experience, so don’t worry about that at all.

How to stop my dog from eating bugs

Stopping your dog from eating bugs is going to be much like stopping your dog from doing anything else you don’t want him to do:

  • Teach him a primary “stop” or “no” or “drop it” command
  • Distract him with a treat or a toy
  • Be vigilant when he is outdoors

These will help your dog to stop this “bad behavior,” and a vet can always offer some suggestions, too, when it comes to redirecting the dietary concerns or the “texture” that he seems to be looking for!

All things considered

Dogs eat bugs for dietary and curiosity reasons. It’s normal behavior. Some bugs are harmless, like June bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, and houseflies.

However, some bugs are dangerous for your dog. These include ladybugs, spiders, bees and wasps, earthworms, slugs, snails, ladybugs, cockroaches, fleas, and stinkbugs.

Understanding the risks and how to keep your dog safe from harm is essential!

Dogs eating bugs is gross and, unfortunately, normal. This information and tips will help you distinguish good bugs from bad ones and how to handle this nasty habit!

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Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.