Why Does My Dog Eat Bugs?
[Full Guide]

Aaron Rice Expert Dog Trainer
Written: January 17, 2022

Dogs are instinctively outdoor and playful animals. It’s far from uncommon to find your dog nipping at an insect in the backyard or out in the park. And even though the idea grosses out most humans, this is a natural phenomenon among animals.

In the wild, animals eat all kinds of crazy things. Sometimes they snack on clay and dirt to absorb minerals that they otherwise don’t get from their regular diets. Carnivores are often seen chomping on vegetation, making no sense at first, but it’s part of their instincts.

Besides, dogs explore the world with their mouths. They enjoy discovering new textures, smells, and tastes.

Also, we can’t deny they are huge snoops; they just love getting their noses everywhere to find out what the slightest sound of movement is about. Dogs are intrinsically curious animals—probably the reason why they are so eager to follow us to the bathroom every time.

If you are reading these lines, you’ve probably caught your dog munching on a bug once or more, and the following question has crossed your mind “Should I worry about it?” The short answer here would be “Mostly, no,” but I wouldn’t dare it’s safe either.

In this guide, you and I will get into which insects are safe for your doggy to eat and which aren’t. Also, we will answer the ultimate question, “Should I allow my dog to eat bugs?” and break down what the right approach should be to keep your furry companion happy and safe.

Is It Safe that My Dog Eats Bugs?

Dogs will be dogs—duh, right?—What I mean is, eating strange things is written in their canine genes. They are extremely curious about the world and want to nibble on every strange little creature that looks funny and moves around.

The good news is, except for some insects like stink bugs, snails, and slugs, ladybugs, cockroaches, fleas, spiders, and bees/wasps—which I just noticed are a lot—your pooch will be just fine.

The bottom line is dogs eat bugs, and most are safe for them to eat; they could even become a complementary source of protein and other nutrients—and a yummy snack—to your furry little friend. But—and I will say that again for the sake of drama—but, you can’t always be sure that will be the case.

It’s important to mention that the risks that eating bugs can pose to your dog are various; among them:

  • Being infected with lungworms
  • Irritation in their mouth from the discharge of certain bugs
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Poisoning or exposure to certain levels of toxicity

In the U.S. only, there are 91.000 described species of insects. It would take ages to go through each of them. So we will focus on the few most common bugs in homes across the country. Let’s dive into it.

Can My Dog Eat Cockroaches?

Considered by most people as vermin, these six-legged critters are one of the most common pests in the U.S. No matter where you live; roaches are fit to endure all kinds of climates. And likely, you have already run into one or two at home.

By themselves, cockroaches are not poisonous or toxic to your dog. They are even considered a viable source of protein. However, these undesirable insects are exposed to all kinds of pesticides and poison often; if your dog ends up eating one, you should not worry as their toxic charge will be too low to do your dog any harm.

Even so, according to veterinarian Robert R. Hase, cockroaches are carriers of roundworms of Physaloptera spp. (a stomach worm). After ingesting an infected roach, your dog could develop symptoms such as: 

  • Malnourishment
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Pot Bellied appearance
  • Coughing
  • Worms vomited up or visible in stools

So let’s best stay on the safe side and keep your dog from eating these worm-carrying pests.

Can My Dog Eat Spiders?

Most people are familiar with unexpectedly meeting one of these 8-legged, arachnid animals and have their souls jump out of their buddies. While most people find spiders at least a little repulsive and creepy, many dogs see them as fun playtime toys and often yummy snacks. The question is…

Is it safe that dogs eat spiders?

There are hundreds of spider species living in US homes; cellar spiders, crab spiders, jumping spiders, cobweb spiders, wolf spiders, and hobo spiders; they’re too many to count or name. And even though most of them are harmless to your dog, spiders like the black widow or brown recluse release a powerful neurotoxin or venom that is highly toxic to dogs and potentially deadly.

The symptoms caused by dogs ingesting or being bitten by one of these poisonous arachnids are:

  • Paralysis
  • Muscle tremors and cramping
  • Painful abdomen and back muscles
  • Respiratory difficulties
  • Drooling
  • Restlessness
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Death if the anti-venom treatment is not given quickly

Can My Dog Eat Ants?

Ants are constantly in search of yummy food to stock up on, and it’s natural that they find their way into your dog’s bowl and try to take over it. Some dogs might be discouraged from eating their kibbles if they see them covered in ants; others might not care and enjoy the extra crunch in their food.

Luckily, most ants are completely non-toxic to dogs and are regarded as a good source of protein and vitamin C.

You might want to keep ants away from your canine friend’s food, though, as they might get bitten and end up having a painful experience.

Can My Dog Eat Grasshoppers?

These green, little, jumpy bugs are considered extremely protein-rich and are even an appetizing snack in countries like Thailand. Dogs find the manner and appearance of this insect alluring, that’s why dogs eat these bugs at times, and in most cases, they’ll be just fine.

Despite concerns about grasshoppers or crickets being exposes to toxic agents like pesticides and antifungals, chances are they won’t carry enough toxicity to make your dog sick.

Can My Dog Eat Termites?

Termites are bugs that enjoy living and hanging out in hidden, secluded places. So t’s very unlikely that your dog munches on them often.

Dogs eat bugs, and it’s just something hard to avoid; the good thing is you can rest assured termites don’t represent a danger to them—at least no more than an unpleasant bite here and there.

Can My Dog Eat Flies?

These flying bugs make for a fun catch game for dogs looking for some amusement, and if your dog is one of them, they are likely to gulp down one or two. Not to worry, flies pose no danger to dogs—so you could just let them be and play “catch the fly” for a while.

Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?

Cicadas became infamous bugs in the dog lovers’ world in 2004 after a post on social media about a dog dying from eating more than 300 cicadas went viral. However, some doctors claim that they are less dangerous than people think. And while they are not explicitly dangerous for dogs, these bugs’ hard and crunchy shells could wreak havoc in dogs’ stomachs if ingested in large quantities.

Can My Dog Eat Butterflies?

Even though these pretty flying bugs are at times mesmerizing to dogs and fun to chase, it’s very unlikely that they actually catch and crunch one of them.

Nevertheless, Monarch butterflies eat milkweed, which is toxic to both humans and dogs. If dogs eat bugs exposed to this plant’s toxins, they could develop symptoms like vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea. If your furry friend gets his mouth on one of these, contact your veterinarian immediately.

Can My Dog Eat Worms?

Here’s a fun fact: It’s estimated that a mid-size garden can host up to 20.000 earthworms. It’s no surprise that if your fur baby spends a fair amount of time in your back or front yard, they run into these squirmy, slimy animals.

Dogs eat worms sometimes; it might just be the result of a zealous scour in the dirt. But you can shrug it off if it ever came to happen with your dog, as they are mostly safe for your dog to eat.

There are certain concerns regarding worms, however. As it’s part of their routine, earthworms nib through various matters, especially decaying plants and animals. Therefore, they consume a wide variety of bacteria and could potentially ingest roundworm eggs.

If your dog eats these invertebrate animals that are infected with roundworms, well, there would be a potential risk that your dog gets infected as well. This could be reflected in your pup’s stool in the form of spaghetti-like worms—disgusting to even think about, I know.

Roundworm can pose certain health risks like vomiting, potbelly, poor appetite, poor growth, and weight loss. Luckily, it can be treated with a visit to the vet and a proper deworming procedure. All in all, it’s safe to say that if your dog eats a worm or a few, there is not much to be worried about.

Should I Allow my Dog to Eat Bugs?

If your dog eats bugs often, before repressing their behavior, you need to understand it’s just part of their curious nature; try to be understanding and don’t punish them or treat them harshly for doing so. However, eating bugs is not entirely harmless; it’s good that you stay alert to avoid an unpleasant experience for your dog.

Dogs are naturally outdoor predators, and whether out in the back yard or at the park, it’s almost impossible to supervise them at all times. And since we can’t be sure they’ll eat the right bugs all the time—or teach them to discern safe from unsafe bugs—the best advice I could give you is:

As much as possible, keep your pup away from insects.
If you have any sort of pest problem at home, call your nearest pest control company to get it under control; it will not only keep you and your family safe but also your canine pal.

Fumigating your home every once in a while can help reduce or exterminate populations of roaches, spiders, and other insects that could compromise the well-being of your dog. 

Additionally, keeping your dog indoors decreases its chances of being exposed to undesired bugs. Also, during walks, try to keep your canine companion on a leash and under your supervision at all times.