Dogs eat almost anything, from grass to rocks, and they run after anything that moves or makes a noise. You’ve seen your dog eat the most disgusting things – anything from cat puke to poop. These things have never caused any harm to your dog at all. But recently, you’ve seen your dog go after every moving bug around, which is sometimes followed by a sudden onset of diarrhea. And you find yourself wondering if it wasn’t the recent increase in grasshoppers you’ve seen outside – you’re sure you’ve seen your dog eat one or two.
Can Your Dogs Eat Grasshoppers Safely?
Can dogs eat grasshoppers? Yes and no. The grasshopper will not cause harm to your dog as it is not toxic in itself. In fact, it can provide some nutrition to your dog. At the very worst, your dog will only have an upset stomach or even not react at all. However, in some cases, the grasshopper could contain traces of pesticides or parasites that could cause harm to your dog. So how can we let our pets play safely with the bugs they so love?
Know. Your. Bugs.
Keep on reading to find out more about why our pets love playing with bugs so much, which bugs are okay for them to ingest, and which to rather avoid.
A dog’s natural drive to hunt
Dogs have an instinct to hunt after that which moves, be it cars, rabbits, or bugs. This instinct – their prey drive – is to ensure that a dog would have something to eat if it was living freely in nature. Simply put: these are survival instincts.
Grasshoppers must be extra fun to hunt since they jump around and can therefore be super tempting to hunt and to eat if they are tasty. Some bugs can also be a source of protein for dogs.
Insects are protein
In the last couple of years, the option to include insect protein in animal feed has been explored and has become an increasingly attractive option. The main reason for this is because of the eco-friendliness of production when compared to conventional meat production.
Some insects that have been investigated include the black soldier fly, termites, and grasshoppers. Insect meals are highly nutritious and contain up to 55 – 70%. There has also been positive feedback regarding the effect on animal gut health of compounds in the skeleton of insects.
Insects have also made their appearance in cat and dog food. Note that these are all highly processed foods meaning that pesticides would be washed off, and any parasites and microbes would be killed during the production process of the foods.
Are Grasshoppers Harmful to Dogs?
Grasshoppers themselves are not harmful but rather the things they might carry. Grasshoppers could carry roundworms and parasites that can be harmful depending on where the grasshoppers have been before; they can also carry pesticides and fertilizers that can be toxic to your dog. Pesticides are designed to kill bugs, and therefore it is unlikely that your dog will die from them, but they might cause serious illness to your pet.
Lubber grasshoppers are particularly poisonous for their predators but perfectly safe for dogs and humans. These grasshoppers warn their predators with their brightly colored appearance. Lubbers eat substances in plants that make them poisonous to many of their predators. These are also unpalatable, so it is highly unlikely that your dog will completely ingest them. However, they might just suffer from an upset stomach in the event that they do, but there should be no long-term consequences.
Why Does My Dog Like to Eat Grasshoppers?
Dogs will run after a grasshopper – or any moving thing – out of pure curiosity. They love to move after a tiny crawling thing or snap at a flying insect simply because it’s fun. Dogs are always keen to pursue their toys or run after a ball, and they take after bugs and any moving thing for the same reason, and much to our amusement sometimes! They also have a natural prey drive which takes over when they see or smell something interesting.
Can a Grasshopper Kill a Dog?
A grasshopper itself cannot kill your dog. However, grasshoppers and other bugs can carry worms, such as roundworms and other parasites. The eggs of these worms or the adults could cause an internal blockage, resulting in death if left untreated. So, it is not the grasshopper itself that can cause harm to your dog, but that which the grasshopper potentially carries. If your dog shows any signs of illness that do not go away after a day or two, make sure to get them to a veterinarian. Veterinarians can test for parasites, and there is treatment available if your dog is affected by a worm of some kind.
What Happens if My Dog Eats a Grasshopper?
If your dog has eaten a grasshopper, the most common symptoms could include vomiting and diarrhea. This is typical for a dog; when it ingests something foreign, its digestive system is not used to it. If your dog continues showing either of these symptoms, follow the steps you would follow in a typical case of an upset stomach. Try a bland diet for a day or skipping one meal.
Suppose your dog has eaten a grasshopper that carried a parasite. In that case, he could suffer from a variety of symptoms, including a depressed appetite, lack of energy, a decrease in stamina during exercise, and weight loss.
In any of these cases, make sure that there is always enough fresh water available and if your dog’s condition worsens, make sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.
Bugs that Are Safe to Eat Besides Grasshoppers for Dogs
Here follows a summary of bugs that will most likely not cause any harm to your pet. Note that moderation is the key to success here. Your dog will most likely suffer from an upset stomach if they eat too many of these, even if they eat only one. But, there will not be significant consequences other than that.
- Beetles – Don’t let your dog eat too many Asian lady beetles
- June beetle
- Non-venomous spiders – How will your dog know the difference? Instead, steer clear of all spiders to help train your dog and ultimately not get into trouble with a venomous one.
- Stink bugs – No harm here, except for the smell!
Other Harmful Bugs To Your Dog Besides Grasshoppers
Many bugs carry larvae that could cause serious harm to your dog. This includes crickets, cockroaches, and some beetles. When your dog has ingested a parasite-carrying insect, a mild case will include vomiting or diarrhea. In severe cases, the parasites can cause blockages in the dog’s gastrointestinal tract, ulcers, and anemia. When certain parasites infect dogs, e.g., Physaloptera, symptoms could only appear months after the parasite has been ingested.
What Bugs Are Toxic to Dogs that Aren’t Grasshoppers?
Slugs, earthworms, and snails carry larvae of a lungworm, a parasite that could cause respiratory disease, internal hemorrhaging, or even death.
Beetles, cockroaches, and crickets can cause stomach worms since they can carry larvae of parasites.
Monarch caterpillars (and thus butterflies) eat milkweed, which is highly toxic to dogs. Luckily these bugs have an extremely bitter taste which means that it is highly unlikely that your dog will completely ingest them, but it still is best to avoid them completely.
Certain caterpillars, including the saddleback caterpillar and the monkey slug caterpillar, can sting or inject venom into their prey. This could be painful to your dog when he is stung by the spines of these caterpillars.
Other insects that can cause pain to your dog include the tarantula hawks. These flying insects hunt tarantula spiders, and their sting is among the most painful in the insect kingdom. Also, steer clear of any venomous spiders – if your dog eats one of these, they can become seriously ill. Bees could also sting and cause your dog to swell up.
Train Your Dog to Not Eat Grasshoppers / Bugs
Can dogs be trained to stop eating bugs? Of course! If you are over-careful by nature and you would like your dog to stop eating bugs altogether, or at least steer clear of bugs when you see a threat approaching, you could teach your dog to obey voice commands.
In an emergency, like when you see a spider you know is venomous, it is best to restrain your dog from physically approaching. Some dogs lose it completely when it comes to their prey drive, so it is best to get to know your dog in situations like these and be prepared.
NOTE!: If you are ever worried about your dog’s reaction to a bug, it is best to take them to the veterinarian.
When To Take Your Dog To The Vet After Eating A Grasshopper
If your dog has eaten a grasshopper and you’re unsure whether it may cause harm, it’s generally a good idea to monitor your dog closely for any signs of distress or unusual behavior. In most cases, if your dog is not displaying any immediate symptoms, it’s unlikely that there is a cause for concern.
However, if you notice any of the following symptoms, you should consider taking them into the vet.
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea.
- Signs of abdominal pain, such as restlessness, pacing, or whining.
- Loss of appetite or refusal to eat.
- Lethargy or weakness.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Swelling, hives, or any signs of an allergic reaction.
- Tremors, seizures, or any abnormal neurological symptoms.
- Excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth.
While your dog eating a grasshopper can often be a scary thought, it’s important to consider that in most cases it is completely harmless. Dogs have a natural tendance to want to trap and eat pray and grasshoppers are one of the many creatures that can be found in your backyard or local park. While in most scenario, eating a grasshopper will be harmless for your pupper, it’s important to pay a little extra attention to them in the following few days to make sure they aren’t disabling any symptoms that could lead to a trip to the vet.