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Insect-Based Protein vs Common Animal Proteins in Dog Treats

by Alexa Lehr | 03.11.2022
Insect-Based Protein vs Common Animal Proteins in Dog Treats


Just take a stroll through your local supermarket and you are sure to see an aisle bursting with all kinds of treats you can buy for your dog! Many contain protein ranging from traditional sources like chicken or beef, to more exotic sources, like venison or buffalo. These may look like the perfect treat for your furry companion, but which protein should you choose? How does insect protein compare to common animal proteins like chicken and beef? Just like we pay attention to what we eat, we should also consider what our pets are eating.


Hidden Pitfalls of Traditional Animal Proteins 

Traditional dog treats contain protein from animal sources such as beef, pork, chicken, or lamb. While that may sound great for our dogs, we should consider where those meats are sourced before assuming that they are healthy for dogs.

A lot of the animal meat used in dog treats comes from farms where animals are fed a diet that contains synthetically grown plants, growth hormones, and chemical insecticides. Since dogs are near the top of the food chain, they are more likely to be affected by what their food sources eat too. If a cow eats a diet injected with hormones and synthetically grown plants, then its meat will also be affected by those unnatural additives – all things that are far from a dog’s natural diet.

Traditional dog treats may also contain meat meal and meat by-products. Those ingredients are essentially the leftover scraps from meat processing or butchering animals for human consumption. Many times, those funky byproducts are derived from animal waste, hooves, hair, bones, and even euthanized animals. You can imagine these things are not natural for dogs to consume!

However, meat isn’t the only ingredient in dog treats that can have questionable or unnatural origins. Synthetic preservatives are often added by dog treat manufacturers to ensure their treats have a long shelf life, which in turn saves them money. They often contain carcinogens which have been linked to health problems in dogs, such as organ failure and cancer[1]. With all of these scary potential additives, it pays to look twice at the ingredient list of your dog’s treat!


What Are Insect-Based Dog Treats? 

Dogs thrive on a diet that includes quality protein. With all the funky things you can find in the average dog treat, what alternatives do responsible pet owners have for their beloved furry friends? What is the best source of protein for my pup?

Let’s talk about insects. Insects aren’t a substitute for meat – they ARE meat, and they are naturally rich with protein. Rather than using traditional meat, insect-based dog food and treats are made with insects as the primary source of protein, usually in the form of insect powder.

With millions to choose from, not all insects are created equal. In the same way that different types of animal proteins have different benefits, the same is true of insect protein. At Grubbly, we use insect protein from black soldier fly grubs.

These grubs are at the heart of every farm-fresh recipe at Grubbly. Not only are they packed with protein and nutrients, but they also have unique properties which make them a highly sustainable option for protein. This is crucial when considering the unsustainable practices and cruel conditions often found in traditional animal farming.

While it may seem strange to feed our dogs treats or snacks that contain insects, your furry friend doesn’t think it’s weird at all! In fact, domestic pets have eaten grubs for generations—chasing, sniffing, and eating insects. Our adventurous fur balls naturally love grubs, so feeding grub protein is following our dog’s instinctual lead.

 black soldier fly larvae protein vs prime rib steak protein

Benefits of Grub Protein for Dogs 

What makes grub protein so beneficial for dogs and other pets? Let’s break down the many health benefits that black soldier fly grubs can provide our furry companions.

  1. Hypoallergenic- Black soldier fly grubs are naturally hypoallergenic, which means it’s less likely that your fluffy ones will have an allergic reaction. Unlike traditional sources of protein like beef and poultry (which have been known to cause dog allergies), grubs provide a novel protein source and have shown no evidence of causing an immune response in dogs. This makes grub protein a great meat option for dogs with allergies or food sensitivities.
  2. Excellent Source of Protein- Pound for pound, whole dried grubs have more protein than a prime rib steak! In addition, there are 10 amino acids that dogs must acquire from their diet. Black soldier fly grubs have a complete amino acid profile, meaning they contain all 10 essential amino acids. In fact, they contain more amino acids than beef, chicken, and pork[2]!
  3. Highly Digestible - Although a particular protein source may in fact contain the 10 amino acids that dogs need, the protein needs to be digestible in order to be fully utilized. In canine feed trials, BSF protein has showcased an impressive 85% digestibility[3]! 
  4. Beneficial Fatty Acids- Black soldier fly grubs are rich with lauric acid, a medium-chain fatty acid (MCFA) commonly found in coconut oil that has been shown to improve skin and coat health, cognitive function, and digestion. Lauric acid has even shown anti-microbial properties!
  5. Clean Protein - With grubs as protein, our dogs can have a clean, all-natural source of protein without funky byproducts. Unlike other sources of meat, our grubs are free of growth hormones and antibiotics.
  6. Sustainable and Humane - Compared to beef, grub protein produces 99% less CO2 equivalent, 94% less water, and 99% less arable land! Plus, unlike factory-farmed cattle and poultry, grubs can be ethically harvested in close quarters and don’t feel pain like vertebrates do. Black soldier fly grubs are also a unique way to combat food waste, since they can eat just about anything. Our grubs consume recycled fruits, vegetables, and grains that would otherwise end up in a landfill.


Upgrade Your Pup's Protein

When it comes to treats, there are endless options for you to choose for the health and happiness of your dog. However, many popular dog treats contain low quality animal protein and unnatural fillers. Instead of choosing a mystery meat with a high environmental price tag, nourish your pup with sustainable grub-based food and snacks. Loaded with healthy grub protein and lacking scary filler ingredients, Grubbly’s dog snacks are healthy for pets and our planet!


[1] Pet Can




Alexa Lehr

Alexa Lehr

Alexa grew up raising, showing, and caring for poultry. Her passion for poultry grew into her current small farm business, the Black Feather Farm, where she breeds rare and heritage chicken breeds. She uses her vast experience to improve the lives of chickens and educate Grubbly readers as well as readers on her own blog, The Pioneer Chicks.

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