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Pet care tips: Cockroaches, fly larvae and crickets – pet food goes vegan via insect protein food and treats


Cockroaches, fly larvae and sustainably-raised crickets will soon become a vital (and apparently delicious) part of what our pets eat, in a dramatic shift towards a vegan diet.

Cockroaches, fly larvae and sustainably-raised crickets are set to become a crucial part of what our pets eat, in a dramatic (and apparently delicious) shift towards the canine, and feline, equivalent of a vegan diet.

Traditional diets based on meat are making way for insect protein, as more becomes known about its health benefits, in the biggest shake-up of what our furry friends eat in decades.

Insect-based pet food treats have only recently become widely available in Australia, with meal or dry food expected to follow by the end of the year in line with the US and UK.

“We are seeing interest in insect based treats grow amongst pet parents in Australia looking for alternate organic and more sustainable food options,” Dr Teagan Lever, Head Vet at Pet Circle said.

“Early studies suggest that insects such as crickets, cockroaches and fly larvae have a protein content similar to commonly used pet food ingredients like poultry meal and fish meal.

“Due to their efficient use of food and small footprint, insects could be a more sustainable protein source in pet food than meat and fish. Alternative protein sources such as chicken feathers are already in use in some commercial pet foods, and provided the diet is complete and balanced, insect protein could be used in the same way.”

Based on research from the RSPCA, Future Market Insights and Animal Medicines Australia, our pet industry is worth more than $31 billion a year. Food costs make up a third of that figure, with insect-based products expected to hold seven per cent of it by year’s end and grow 10 per cent year-on-year over the next decade.

Golden Retriever Archie is one pup whose owner Erin Adams is very conscious of what he eats.

“We’re learning more and more about how to help our pets live a long and healthy life and just like us, what they eat plays a huge role in that,” Ms Adams said.

“We aren’t feeding Archie all or nothing, he gets a bit of everything, and insect protein is a smart choice not only for him but for the environment as well.”

Dog food brand ONE (with everything) is one of the first Australian pet companies to produce insects, with its Black Soldier Fly Larvae protein manufactured in Melbourne. Founder Martin Pike said owners are aligning their pet’s diets with that of their own.

“With the pet health and longevity megatrend, we’ve found that Aussie families increasingly want to provide their pets with only naturally delicious and highly nutritious snacks,” he said.

“Insect protein delivers precisely that – providing nutrients that are more digestible than many meat-based proteins.”

However this pet diet revolution comes with a warning.

“Dog and cat owners should not feed their pets off-the-shelf insect products for other animals, like food for reptiles and birds or fish bait, as these are not complete and balanced and could also contain ingredients unsafe for dogs and cats to consume,” Dr Lever said.

PET OWNERSHIP STATISTICS

It’s estimated there are around 31 million pets across Australia.

Around 70 per cent of Aussie households own a pet, with dogs (around 42 per cent of households) the most popular, followed by cats at around 27 per cent of households.

Dog ownership has boomed since 2019, with more than a million additional dogs in Aussie households, taking the total number of dogs in the country to around six and a half million, in addition to more than four million cats, more than 6 million birds and around 12 million fish.

Our pet industry is worth more than $31 billion a year. Food costs make up a third of that figure, with insect-based products expected to hold seven per cent of it by year’s end and grow 10 per cent year-on-year over the next decade.

On average pet owners spend $3200 yearly per dog, and $2100 per cat, mostly on food, veterinary services and healthcare.

* Source RSPCA and Animal Medicines Australia

More on insect protein for your pet

Visit At Home for all your pet tips and advice.

Originally published as Pet care tips: Cockroaches, fly larvae and crickets – pet food goes vegan via insect protein food and treats



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