Insect protein in dog food: the sustainable alternative

Do you sometimes abstain from using your car, always pack weekly shopping into your own cloth bag or perhaps even eat vegetarian food? If so, then you certainly try to be more environmentally friendly in other ways, too. Yet, have you ever stopped to think that maybe your four-legged residents could actually be more harmful to the environment than you are? 

To what extent does dog ownership harm the environment?

There are 9.4 million domestic dogs living in Germany (source: Statista) – and they frolic around with an elephant-sited ecological (paw) print through your home and garden. One year in the life of a poodle, spaniel and co. places a severe strain on the environment. Why? It results in just as many emissions as a round trip by car from Munich to Athens. Dog food alone accounts for almost two-thirds of these emissions. The remainder is caused by dog walks, buying equipment, grooming and waste disposal. Particularly precarious are: dog owners that feed according to BARF (biological species-appropriate raw feeding). This triples the environmental impact of your four-legged friends. (Annaheim, Jungbluth, Meili; 2019)

What does a high proportion of meat in dog food mean for the environment?

While meat is making less or no appearance on our plates, dog food is experiencing the opposite trend. An increasing number of pet owners want to provide their pets with food consisting of a high meat content, which is sometimes at the expense of climate and nature: Meat production has a direct negative impact on the environment. In the USA, over one quarter of harmful environmental effects caused by the meat industry can be traced back to cat and dog food. If the demand for meat continues to rise, that will mean: We need additional resources such as energy, land and water, use an increasing amount of pesticides and produce greater quantities of waste. (Okin, 2017)

Insect protein: Innovations in the dog food market

For some years now, scientists the world over have been increasingly focused on this more sustainable source of protein. Although many people throughout Europe, North America and Australia (continue to be) repulsed by the idea of crawling insects as a snack. However, our four-legged companions are completely unfamiliar with this reaction of disgust. Quite the opposite: Insect protein in dog food is species-appropriate and particularly tasty. 

Benefit 1

Insect protein is environmentally-friendly

Insect protein represents an environmentally friendly alternative to livestock production. Dog food with insect protein for example MERA pure sensitive Insect Protein, might therefore take some getting used to for us, but this is not the case for dogs themselves.

Benefit 2

Sustainable sources of protein

Insects are excellent sources of protein and nutrients and represent and a high quality, resource-conserving substitute for meat in dog food.

Benefit 3

Species-appropriate and delicious

The sustainable alternative feed tastes fantastic and is quite simply species-appropriate. What is more: It is more species-appropriate than vegetarian dog diets, which often cause a nutrient deficiency among our four-legged friends.

Benefit 4

No animal suffering for insects

For vegetarian dog owners, insects as a source of protein are ethically better represented than meat in the feed. Since the creepy-crawlies are kept in a species-appropriate way and are not subjected to any suffering during breeding.

Benefit 5

Particularly good level of tolerance

Dog food with insect protein is especially good for dogs with intolerances or food allergies. The dry feed Insect Pro, for example, is particularly suitable for ill and very food-sensitive dogs as well as environmentally conscious owners.

The environmental aspect

Why do insects result in fewer emissions than animals?

The entire life cycle from larvae to fly takes less than 2 months. Hence, it is much shorter than for beef, chicken and co. One tonne of fly larvae can be cultivated in only 2 weeks – on a surface that is approx. the size of an average bedroom. Hardly any emissions are produced. Cattle, however, need much more space for breeding and rearing and emit a great deal of greenhouse gas. (Protix, 2020)

Why is insect protein resource-friendly?

Breeding insects also conserves our water resources. To produce 1 kilo of protein, the larvae of the black soldier fly only uses 4 per cent of the water that would be necessary for producing the same amount of protein from cattle. (Miglietta, Leo, Ruberti, Massari) That is all the more impressive if we consider that more than two thirds of freshwater worldwide is used for agriculture. Last but not least, processing insects is very uncomplicated. Most larvae and creepy-crawlies are ground and consumed whole. However, only half of the cow or chicken is edible.

Are hormones and antibiotics necessary when breeding insects?

No. Since insects have much less contact with their keepers than “classic” livestock. According to up-to-date scientific knowledge, many edible species of insect, such as black soldier flies, do not generally transmit diseases are themselves very resistant towards environmental influences. (Shumo, Osuga, Khamis, et al., 2019). That’s why there is scarcely any risk of with transmitting infectious diseases to humans – as we experienced with farming cattle during the BSE outbreak. (FAO, 2019)

How do insects fare from a nutritional-physiological perspective?

Insects supply valuable protein in the form of essential amino acids. At the same time, the larvae of the black soldier fly provides dog food with important fats: Mono- and polyunsaturated fatty acids, which strengthen the immune system, but also saturated fatty acids that create energy. (van Huis, 2013) The fat and protein content of insect may vary slightly depending on the species, preparation and feed. (Wang, Shelomi, 2017) Edible insects also have a high proportion of valuable micronutrients, such as zinc and iron. They therefore naturally supplement dog food with many important nutrients. (van Huis, 2013)

Arnold van Huis: Potential of Insects as Food and Feed in Assuring Food Security, Laboratory of Entomology, Wageningen University, 2013
FAO, 2019 (
FAO, 2019 (

Sustainable dog food with insect protein - Ideal for allergy sufferers