True Confessions: My Pet Eats Bugs (and It’s Probably Okay)

Pet wellness.

Many pets have a tendency to track flying objects with the intent to chomp on and swallow them. It may seem odd, and it’s definitely a little gross, but it is a fairly normal behavior in the animal world. Dogs and cats seem to enjoy snatching up flying insects. If you’ve been cautiously observing this behavior, and wondering why your pet eats bugs, we’ve got the scoop.

Shoo, Fly!

Most of us absolutely detest flies, and go above and beyond to keep them out of the house. While a nuisance for us, flies appear enticing to dogs and cats. They zoom, dip, soar, and settle on places as if to taunt the pets we love. In other words, they’re captivating to watch—and sometimes to eat.

Your pet eats bugs because, well, it’s an interesting thing to do. They’re crunchy, fun to chase, and satisfy their predatory instincts. Plus, they could even offer an easy bit of nutrition—despite triggering our collective gag reflex!

Additionally, your pet may eat bugs to relieve stress and anxiety, or to reduce boredom. It’s entertainment, and eating bugs is, simply, fun for them. If your pet is young and full of energy, eating bugs may satisfy their need for activity.

What Else to Know

A pet eats bugs because they can, not necessarily because they’re missing something in their diet, or that they’re even hungry. We know the impulse to add more calories to their bowl in order to minimize their bug eating activities, but they really don’t go hand-in-hand. 

Eating bugs just answers an ancient instinct.

Is Eating Bugs Safe…or Unhealthy?

Looking beyond the gross factor, eating flies is probably nothing to worry about. Yes, they have the potential to spread disease, bacteria, and parasites, but the acid in your pet’s stomach likely kills whatever they’re carrying. 

That being said, some flies pick up chemical compounds intended to eradicate flying insects and other pests. If your pet eats a fly that has ingested poison, they can become sick. The solution can either be to train your pet not to eat bugs, or apply a pet-safe insecticide around your property. 

Your Pet Eats Bugs, Then Gets Sick

While flies are definitely off-putting and potentially sickening, other bugs can cause gastrointestinal distress and even more serious symptoms, such as venom toxicity. For owners worried that their pet eats bugs, be sure the following are always off-limits:

  • Caterpillars
  • Earthworms
  • Snails
  • Slugs
  • Wasps and bees
  • Spiders
  • Cockroaches
  • Ladybugs
  • Asian lady beetles
  • Stink bugs
  • Mosquitoes
  • Fleas

Some of the above insects are poisonous, others have stingers or spines that cause damage. Keep an eye out for any signs of GI trouble like vomiting or diarrhea. 

Managing insects on and around your property is always a good idea, but if your pet eats bugs more often than your comfort allows, take extra steps to minimize their exposure to creepy crawlies. Check that window screens are intact, always close doors, and be sure that your pet is up-to-date on their year-round parasite prevention medication

Please call us at (916) 634-1137 with any questions or concerns. Our team is always here to help at East Sacramento Veterinary Center.