Are Ants in Dog Food Safe To Eat?

Even people who keep a remarkably clean home nevertheless may leave food right out in the open — as in dog food or cat food.

One of the most common sights in an American kitchen is a food bowl for pets that always has a little something in it.

Most ant species and colonies have specialized members whose job it is to scout out new sources of food. Very often that source is inside your home – dog food. Ants love to eat dog food.

If an ant scout finds it and likes what it tastes, it will head back home and inform it’s friends that he or she has found a tremendous cache of food.

Before you know it, a caravan of ants is routinely making the trek to your dog’s dish to share in Fido’s feast.

Occasionally, dogs will fail to notice ants in their food and gobble them down along with their regular lunch. The question is: if Dog eats ants what will happen?

Is It Bad Or Okay For My Dog To Eat Ants?

The truth is, ants are an excellent source of protein and vitamins for just about any species of animal to eat, be it dog, bear, bird or a human being.

It seems that just about everyone loves to eat ants, especially bears and birds, along with other members of the insect world.

One larger animal that especially loves to eat ants is the black bear. Some bears have similar nutritional requirements to dogs, suggests a study in Oxford’s Journal of Mammalogy.

Ants are among the top or primary sources of food for bears, although they prefer to eat the insects in their larval or pupae stage.

Commonly called “ant eggs,” these larvae and pupae are essentially rich clumps of fat and protein. Bears have long sticky tongues.

Their method of getting at ant “broods” is to tip over rocks and deploy their tongues to draw masses of ant eggs into their mouths.

Pets Foods Made From Insects

Not only are ants safe to eat for most dogs, but one of the biggest trends in the pet food industry are new brands of dog food that are actually made from insect protein, some of which include ants.

Intensive studies have been carried out on the palatability of insect-based dogs foods, and the results have been remarkably positive.

For example, a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Science shows that insect-based dog food is “highly digestible” and also contain an “excellent amino acid profile.” Amino acids are essential components of protein.

The study said that insect protein “compares favorably” with animal proteins, such as beef and chicken. In some cases it is superior.

Note that this study did not test with ants, but a variety of insects, including housefly pupae, crickets, six-spot roach, death’s head roach, black soldier fly larvae and morio worm larvae.

Ants Are Highly Nutritious

But the nutritional profile of ants has also been looked at in other studies, and it performs as among the best sources of insect protein and other nutrients. A study using the Western Harvester Ant, for example, determined it held an excellent 66.3% crude protein content.

This ant also scored well across an array of 10 essential amino acids important to dog health. These include, arginine, histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

This study was conducted by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.

You might have to wait a while, however, before you can go out and buy a can of dog food made from processed ant protein.

The pet food industry for the moment is concentrating on pet foods made from crickets which are easier to raise in artificial or farm-type settings.

Several major pet food producers are racing to be the first to offer dog and cat food with cricket meal as a major ingredient — but there are already several brand of dog treats widely available made from cricket meal.

Possible Allergic Reaction

Veterinarians says that there are only a couple of possible downside of dogs consuming live ants. One is an allergic reaction and another is the slight possibility of stomach upset.

It must be noted that a dog would probably have to consume a lot of ants for this to be a problem.

A bigger problem is that the ants in your pet’s food may decide to fight back and bite or sting your dog. This is especially true of fire ant or certain species of red ants.

This might cause swelling of the face or tongue, according to Candy, a veterinary technician with 26 years experience who answers pet medical questions online. But again, it must be noted that the chances of this happening are rare. Dog are known to avoid food that has been invaded by fire ants, for example.

Food Of The Future

The United Nations reports that at least 2 billion people around the planet eat insects on a daily basis. Some 1,900 species of insect have been identified as healthy for people to eat.

Officials with the United Nations predict that proteins derived from insects will be an increasingly important source of food as human populations grow and agricultural land becomes more stressed and scarce.

What this also strongly suggests is that food for nonhuman species — the animals we both love and rely upon — may become an ever more important market for foods made from insect protein.

Since the world is teaming with billions of ants, the likelihood that they will become a key source of food for our pets is a major possibility.

So rather than worrying about our beloved four-legged friends eating a few ants now and then, we are probably better off embracing ants and other insects as an important source of food that is sustainable, affordable and healthy for our pets to eat.

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