Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
My Dog Ate a Cricket. Is It Safe?
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.
In dogs, prey drive 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 would turn down a bug if they were really hungry. After all, the predatory sequence 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. In fact, some dogs seem to enjoy chewing on these crunchy critters. But are crickets completely safe to eat? Or, should you prevent your dog from eating them? Vote in the poll below and then read on to discover the answer.
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.
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.
Crickets May Cause Vomiting in Dogs
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 Farricelli
Donna Korth on December 28, 2019:
I was encouraging my small dog (Dorky) to catch the crickets - which he insisted on eating. But now, after a month of this, he now vomits after eating them and I am afraid I have confused him by trying to stop him from catching and eating crickets! I try to catch them first, but he is much closer to the floor than I am. What to do?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 28, 2013:
I think I would freak out too with a roach, just thinking how crunchy they would be...yuk!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 28, 2013:
Hi Gypsy Willow, mine catch them by pouncing on them when they least expect it, thanks for stopping by!
Barbara Fitzgerald from Georgia on May 28, 2013:
Voted up and interesting. I might let my dog eat a cricket, but I would freak on him eating a roach. Big phobia of mine, of course that would get it out of the house lol
Gypsy Willow from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand on May 28, 2013:
I don't think my dogs are quick enough to catch them. But thanks for the heads up!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27, 2013:
Lea, it is fun, I think crickets are really fun as they move in such an unpredictable manner!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27, 2013:
Northwind, my dogs and cats have eaten crickets for some time with no ill effects. I was curious though, because one of the dogs I was training the other day found one in my home and by the time I went to check, he wolfed it down , and I tend to over worry, so I Googled and found this information that I thought was worth sharing.
Lea Smith on May 27, 2013:
I am somewhat concerned about our dogs eating bugs and such, yet it is sure fun watching them play with them! Great detailed article, well written.
North Wind from The World (for now) on May 27, 2013:
Very interesting article. My dogs used to love to eat crickets and if I did find one I would give it to them as a treat. I truly did not know that there are some that can do harm to dogs but mine never suffered with the problems you described. Cats actually like crickets too because I had one and he used to dig up the garden trying to find them and eat them. He never experienced those symptoms either, thankfully. This is good to know. Great article.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 27, 2013:
Mine eat them as well given the chance and never had a problem. I never heard before though of that pesky parasite until now. Fortunately, it's quite rare! Thanks for the votes up! Have a great Memorial Day!
Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on May 27, 2013:
My dogs just play with them then leave the body parts scattered all over the floor. None of my dogs ever had a problem. I have a few pet lizards in the house that means a cricket or two has escaped in the past. From what I understand its the hard shell that could cause a pup an upset tummy.
Great hub marked up and useful.
A friend called me in a panic. His four-month-old puppy got into a pan of chocolate brownies and ate a couple of big ones before anyone noticed her. Should he be worried? His puppy weighs about 35 pounds and he estimated each brownie to be 5×4 inches by 1 inch high.
The important question here is, “What kind of brownies were they?” You see, brownie mix itself doesn’t have a very high chocolate content but adding semi-sweet chips or chunks can raise it to potentially dangerous levels. My friend’s brownies had no added chocolate so I advised him to watch the pup carefully for increased agitation and to be prepared for a few runny stools in the following days. He called three days later to tell me she was fine.
So, what do you do if your dog does eat chocolate? Again, it depends on what kind and how much. Theobromine and caffeine, collectively known as methylxanthines, are the chemical compounds responsible for the damage to the heart and nervous system that we associate with chocolate toxicity in dogs. Toxicologists describe toxins based on their LD50, which is the dose of a substance that, when a population is exposed to it, would be expected to be fatal to half that population. The canine LD50 for chocolate is about 100-200 milligrams (mg) of methylxanthines per kilogram (kg) of dog. In US terms, this is 230-460 mg per 5 pounds of dog. But, according to the Merck Veterinary Manual, signs of toxicity have been reported at much lower levels, even as low as 20 mg/kg (45 mg/5lb), in sensitive dogs.
So, how much of these methylanthines are found in chocolate? Although the actual levels vary among cocoa beans and brands of chocolate, there are some general guidelines: Cocoa powder is the most potent, with about 800 mg per ounce. Unsweetened baking chocolate is next, with about 450 mg/oz. Semi-sweet and sweet dark chocolate have about 150 mg/oz. Milk chocolate has about 64 mg/oz. The amount in white chocolate appears to be medically insignificant. Given these values, just 10 ounces of chocolate chips would have reached the LD50 for my friend’s dog (35 pounds at as little as 230 mg/5 lb). And, since every dog is unique, there’s no way to tell how little would have caused her to be ill.
If you think your dog may have consumed enough chocolate to be in danger, call your vet or local emergency clinic immediately. The receptionist will likely ask you to bring your dog into the clinic right away so that the vet can assess the pet and decide whether to induce vomiting and give something to deal with any chocolate that may already have passed though the upper digestive tract. If the ingestion was more than two hours previous, or if the dog was already showing signs of toxicity, other treatments would be necessary.
You might be tempted to induce vomiting at home but you should do this only if instructed to do so by your vet. You would likely be directed to give either hydrogen peroxide or syrup of ipecac for this purpose. But, hydrogen peroxide has the potential of forming oxygen emboli at high doses. And ipecac, although once a common medicine cabinet item, can be pretty hard to find these days. Since your vet has access to drugs that induce vomiting more effectively than either of these alternatives, it’s probably best to get your dog to a clinic as soon as you can.
Prevention is far more effective than any treatment when it comes to chocolate toxicity in dogs. So, please keep your chocolate stored safely out of Fido’s reach.
What to Do If Your Pet Ate Other Non-Food Stuff
If your pet eats any object other than his food, call your vet. Old socks, dirty tennis balls, or even parts of dog or cat toys might not be poisonous, but that doesn’t make them safe. Soft items like socks or underwear can cause intestinal blockages. Sharp objects like sticks or bone fragments can do the same, and pose the added risk of puncturing your pet’s intestines, Barrack says. In both cases, your pet might need surgery to remove the objects.
“Dogs are descended from wolves,” says Stanley Coren, a psychologist who has written books and hosted television shows about dogs. “If we have a situation where the owner dies and there’s no source of food, what are they going to do? They’re going to take whatever flesh is around.”
In some cases, it’s clear that the animals were scavenging to survive. In one 2007 report, a Chow and a Labrador mix survived for about a month after consuming their dead owner’s body, leaving only the top of the skull and an assortment of bone shards.
Yet in the 1997 case, the German shepherd began eating parts of its owner soon after death.
“It is interesting to consider the reasons for an otherwise well-behaved pet with no motivation of hunger to mutilate the dead body of its owner so quickly,” wrote the forensic examiner, Markus Rothschild.
In 24 percent of the cases in the 2015 review, which all involved dogs, less than a day had passed before the partially eaten body was found. What’s more, some of the dogs had access to normal food they hadn’t eaten.
The pattern of scavenging also didn’t match the feeding behavior of canines in the wild. When dogs scavenged dead owners indoors, 73 percent of cases involved bites to the face, and just 15 percent had bites to the abdomen.
By contrast, canines scavenging outdoors have a well-documented pattern, opening the chest and abdomen to eat the nutrient-rich organs early on, followed by the limbs. Only 10 percent of those cases involve wounds to the head.
Can dogs eat chocolate? All your dog and chocolate questions answered
While dogs might love the delicious sweet taste of chocolate as much as humans, it’s important to remember that chocolate is poisonous to dogs and could make them very unwell. So no matter how much your dog begs for a piece of chocolate, remember dogs and chocolate don’t mix.
Here are the reasons why chocolate is bad for dogs:
- Chocolate contains an ingredient called theobromine (a bit like caffeine), which is toxic to dogs. Dogs aren’t able to break down, or metabolise, theobromine like humans can.
- Theobromine mainly affects a dog’s guts, heart, central nervous system and kidneys.
- Darker, purer varieties of chocolate tend to have the highest levels of theobromine but it’s also found in milk chocolate.
- Symptoms of dog chocolate poisoning include vomiting (which may include blood), diarrhoea, restlessness and hyperactivity, rapid breathing, muscle tension, incoordination, increased heart rate and seizures.
- The effect and signs of chocolate poisoning in dogs depend on the amount eaten and the size of the breed.