If you ask someone who keeps reptiles or fishes as pets about mealworms, it will be a rather common food source for these pets.
Eating mealworms might not be the most appealing option for humans but they provide good nutritional value to some pets.
But can our dogs eat mealworms without any problems?
Most dogs can eat fresh or dried mealworms without any issues. Meal worms contain a high amount of healthy fats and protein that can provide some dietary benefits to your dog. These words aren’t toxic or poisonous to dogs.
Let us take a closer look at what mealworms really are and how many mealworms should you be adding to your dog food.
What Are Mealworms?
First of all, mealworms are not considered worms in general. They are the larval form of the mealworm beetle.
Mealworms are about an inch in length and take up to 30 days to become an adult beetle.
These worms are usually considered as pests as they feed on grains like oats, wheat and rice. There are commercial growers that grow and sell dried and fresh mealworms as fish feed and food for some types of pets.
Nutritional Value Of Mealworms
A 100g serving of mealworms consists of about 20-25g of proteins. Mealworms are also high in minerals like iron, zinc, copper and potassium.
Should humans eat mealworms too given their good nutritional value?
In some countries, mealworms are sold as a snack or part of a dish. Mealworms taste rather mild and are usually served fried, grilled or boiled.
Can Dogs Eat Dried Mealworms?
Yes, your dog can eat mealworms without any problems. You can purchase commercially dried mealworms from the pet store and add some to your dog food. However. just because dogs can eat mealworms doesn’t mean that they can eat spoiled meat even if it’s cooked.
As mentioned earlier, mealworms are high in protein and fats. It is also good to note that the macro percentages in dried mealworms vs fresh mealworms are different.
Dried mealworms contain 53% protein and 28% fat while fresh or live mealworms contain 20% protein and 13% fat.
Feeding your dog mealworms that have been dried or frozen might be better due to the higher protein content. But do be mindful of the higher fat content if your dog is obese or has weight issues.
Too much fat in your dog’s diet can cause obesity and acute pancreatitis. If you have a dog that has an existing pancreatic condition, feeding pumpkin can help with your dog’s pancreatitis.
Dried mealworms are also easier to store and last longer than fresh ones. Plus they don’t wiggle around thus making it harder to eat.
How Many Mealworms Can I Feed My Dog Daily?
Eating mealworms should not form a large portion of your dog’s calorie intake. Even though dogs require a high-protein diet, they are not insectivores.
Dogs are carnivores and need protein from animal meat like chicken, beef, turkey, lamb, etc.
You don’t have to eyeball the amount of dried mealworms that you give. Just a couple of teaspoons every now and then as food toppings would suffice.
If you plan to mix some mealworms into the dog food, I wouldn’t recommend feeding your dog wild mealworms that you found.
You can’t tell if those worms are contaminated or not and you risk getting your dog sick.
Stick to commercially sold mealworms to be safe.
Can I Grow Mealworms At Home To Feed My Dog?
If you are someone that prefers to DIY, you can buy a packet of live mealworms and breed them at home.
It is recommended to start with 150 to 500 worms in a large enough plastic container. Fill the plastic container with grains for the worms to feed on.
Make sure to keep the worms in a cool dark place as they don’t do well under direct heat.
It takes about three months before the mealworms are large enough to be fed to your dog.
Are Mealworms Harmful?
Mealworms do have mandibles like caterpillars and centipedes which they use for feeding.
Can a mealworm bite a dog?
It might but they are too small and weak to inflict any damage on humans or pets.
Furthermore, they don’t contain any poison or toxic chemicals that can harm your dog when ingested.
Feeding your dog commercially sold mealworms is safe as they are grown and harvested in proper conditions.
Do not feed your dog wild mealworms as they might be contaminated. Wild mealworms are can carry parasites and bacteria that can be transmitted to your dog.
These mealworms are also vectors for many bird diseases that can infect your dog.
Is It Safe For Dogs To Eat Bugs?
It isn’t really a dog’s natural instinct to eat insects as compared to cats. They might take the occasional nibble out of curiosity.
Even though it is safe for your dog to eat mealworms, not all bugs are safe for your dogs to eat. There are many bugs out there that can give your dog a nasty bite or cause a toxic reaction.
These are the bugs that you should keep your dog away from:
Bugs like poisonous spiders and centipedes have venomous bites and can cause a lot of pain and damage to your dog’s body. Some caterpillars have prickly spikes on them that contain venom.
Mosquitoes can transmit heartworms and the West Nile virus to your dog.
It is best to not let your dog eat or play with any bug to avoid any unfortunate incidents from happening.
Difference Between Mealworms And Maggots
This is something that many people get confused about as these two worms tend to look similar but are in fact very different.
A maggot is the larva of a fly and is more white in color as compared to a mealworm. They don’t have legs and feed off rotting carcasses and plant matter.
Don’t freak out if your dog has eaten some maggots. They are also high in protein and are generally safe.
However, if your dog has eaten maggots off a dead animal carcass, I would bring it to the vet for a proper check just to be on the safe side as the maggots could have been contaminated.
I understand that feeding mealworms to your dog isn’t every pet owner’s cup of tea. Some dog owners themselves are too creeped out by the sight of these worms to even get close to them.
If your dog has an existing health condition, it might be a good idea to speak to your vet before feeding your dog to prevent any food allergies from happening.