My Dog Ate a Cricket: Is It Safe?
Dog Ate a Cricket; What Now?
If you own a cricket-hunting dog, you may be wondering if eating all those crickets are good for him. Most likely you live in an area where crickets abound and don't stand a chance against Rover. Dogs tend to get into all sorts of things. We know for a fact that many dogs like to eat poop, and many other disgusting things like dead carcasses and the occasional cat puke. Bug eating is not unusual at all, after all the bug will stimulate Rover's prey drive as he stalks and chases around the house.
Prey drive in dogs is a natural, instinctive behavior regardless if your pooch is chasing deer, rabbits, birds, cars or bugs. In nature, this instinct is there so to ensure dogs are good hunters. And in nature, no dog wouldn't turn down a bug if they were really hungry. The predatory sequence after all, encompasses searching, stalking, chasing, catching, biting, killing and eating. So it's quite tempting for Rover to stalk, chase, bite, kill and then eat the bug if it's tasty. Crickets are extra fun to chase because they hop in an unpredictable manner. They must be somewhat tasty too as some dogs seem to enjoy chewing on these crunchy critters. But are crickets completely safe to eat? or should you prevent your dog to from eating them? Vote your thoughts in the Poll below and then read on to discover the answer.
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So Are Crickets Safe for Dogs to Eat?
Crickets encompass more than 900 species, but most have in common the fact that are mostly nocturnal, have long antenna, jump by using their hind legs and make a distinct, chirping sound. Crickets are often confused with grasshoppers which are a different species but are close cousins. A good way to differentiate the two is by looking at the antenna. The cricket has long antennas and the grasshopper has short antennas. Also, grasshoppers are diurnal (active during the day), whereas crickets are nocturnal (active during the night). So if you caught Rover playing with a hopping bug in the evening, most likely it was a cricket.
So Rover just ate a cricket... you are wondering if it's safe to eat. The ultimate answer is that it depends. Yes, crickets may be a good source of protein. Consider that about 100 grams of crickets contains 121 calories, of which only 49.5 of them is fat, on top of that, they boast 12.9 grams of protein and 75.8 milligrams of iron. This explains why various species of crickets are part of human diet in several countries. In Mexico, they're actually considered a delicacy. Online you can find several cricket recipes.
However, some crickets may harvest more than proteins, minerals and fat. In this case we'll need to worry about the larvae of the stomach worm known as "Physaloptera spp." According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, these larvae can be found in various types of insects including beetles, cockroaches, and crickets!
Eating an infected cricket may later lead to mild gastritis with vomiting, loss of appetite, but in severe cases, also bleeding ulcers, weight loss, anemia and tarry, dark feces--melena. However, infections are often sub-clinical ( meaning causing no apparent signs). Puppies and dogs at times may vomit up immature worms. *Note: these symptoms do not appear right away but several months later.
Diagnosis of this through fecal test is often problematic as the eggs are difficult to find on a simple fecal flotation test. A gastroscopy procedure, where an endoscope tube in inserted in the dog's stomach, may be needed. Yet, this may pose some challenges as these worms are pretty small, measuring anywhere between 2.5 to 5 cm long. The drugs fenbendazole, mebendazole, pyrantel pamoate and ivermectin can be used to treat this condition.
Other than the presence of this pesky parasite, sometimes crickets may cause vomiting in dogs. This is due to the cricket's rough texture which may irritate the dog's stomach, explains Just Answer veterinarian Dr. Gabby. However, many dogs may just gobble them up with no problem.
So are crickets good for dogs? Well it depends on which cricket they eat, if you have been using pesticides and how tough the dogs' tummies are. As seen, crickets are intermediate hosts for the Physaloptera spp. larvae, so it all depends if they eat one infected with the larvae or not. Luckily, it looks like an infestation by physaloptera is pretty rare in dogs.
© 2013 Adrienne Janet Farricelli
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