Why insects?

Insects for dog food: an exceptional and diverse protein source with minimal environmental footprint. 

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Our delicious dog food and cold-pressed snacks for dogs are made from two different types of insects: Hermetia illucens (black soldier fly) or Tenebrio molitor (mealworms). They are grown in certified farms that meet all European production and hygiene standards for food of animal origin.Like fish, poultry, pork or beef, our insects are a delicious source of high-quality protein and nutrients. We have selected two species known for their rapid reproductive and growth cycle, as well as their minimal need for water, food and space.The insects used in our dog food grow up without genetic modification, hormones and antibiotics.

5 good reasons for Eat Small, the dog food made from insects 

Dogs are carnivores 

This means that they need animal proteins (including insects, of course) to stay healthy and active.INSEKTENPROTEINE from Hermetia or Tenebrio contain all 20 amino acids that dogs – as carnivores – need. Although these creatures are so small, our insects meet or exceed the nutritional properties of meat in many ways. Their high protein content makes them particularly interesting for dog food.And what makes insects so unique as a food source? Their minimal ecological footprint!For comparable feed production, insect proteins are more environmentally friendly and sustainable than livestock or poultry protein.

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Insects in dog food – Frequently asked questions and our answers

Where does the insect protein come from?

Our insect protein comes from the larvae of Hermetia illucens (black soldier fly) or Tenebrio molitor (mealworm). They grow up in insect farms – except that, compared to conventional animal farms, they require only a tiny fraction of the water, food and space, as well as emitting virtually no greenhouse gases.Each of these tiny energy packs is like a miniaturized transformation factory: their bodies can turn any average plant food into a high-quality concentrate of proteins, vitamins and minerals. After only 2 weeks, the eggs are transformed into adult larvae with very high nutritional properties (similar or higher than those of meat). Like other meats, the larvae of Hermetia illucens or Tenebrio molitor are processed into delicious pet food and dog snacks.

Why is insect protein the perfect meat alternative for dogs in the 21st century?

Insects are incredibly nutritious. Even more nutritious than meat. For the same amount, our used insects have more protein (with all 20 amino acids), more iron, more calcium than meat. They are rich in minerals and vitamins, including vitamin B12, a vitamin not found in plants, but only in meat, fish, milk and eggs. Insects in dog food are highly digestible and free of antibiotics, growth hormones or genetic engineering.Insect protein is one of the most sustainable and ecological proteins. For the same edible quantity, insect farming requires a tiny fraction of water, food, space and time compared to what is needed for conventional animal agriculture. It produces almost no greenhouse gas and the insects have a usable percentage of a whopping 100%. And what is left over (excreta) is used as fertilizer.Insects grow in conditions that mimic their normal environment and way of life. Being with millions of them is what they like! Insect farming means no animal suffering.
With dog food made from insect protein, you and your dog are helping to reduce meat consumption of excessive resource use and pollution! Thank you for this! Our dog food should not only meet the requirements of the 21st century, but even exceed!

Insect protein instead of meat protein - will my dog even eat it?

Natural! Our insects have a meaty, slightly nutty flavor and are delicious for carnivores like dogs. We also choose all our other ingredients not only for their high nutritional quality but also for their great taste: sweet potatoes, wild berries, oils like sunflower or flax oil, bananas, amaranth…..In our training snacks we also use a little insect fat. It’s rich in essential fatty acids and dogs like it so much that every bite is completely irresistible to them. A delicious way to reward your best friend

Why are insects a good choice for dogs with food allergies or digestive sensitivities?

The most common type of food sensitivity in dogs is food allergy. This means that a dog is allergic to one or more components of its diet. The symptoms are almost exclusively skin related (itching and scratching, hair loss, otitis, skin infection). In 80% of allergies, at least one type of meat protein is involved (often what is found in the normal diet: beef, poultry, pork, lamb, sometimes fish). For these cases, insect protein is an excellent choice, because it is a protein that the body has never seen before. Therefore, it does not react to it.Furthermore, it should be noted that insects are also a highly digestible source of protein and nutrients. Eat Small gave its dry food “WALD” to 50 families with dogs so that it could be tested for 7 days. 99% of the owners said that their dog’s feces were well formed and regular during the test. Some people even said that the excretion smells much better than in a diet with meat.

Can my dog be allergic to insects?

Yes, it is possible, but unlikely.If your dog has a known allergy to crustaceans such as shrimp or lobster (very unlikely) or to fleas or body/ear mites, he may also be allergic to the insect in his food. In these allergies, the allergen is most likely chitin, an insoluble fiber found in the shell of crustaceans, but also in the exoskeleton of insects or body mites. Cross-reactions between these different allergies do not occur systematically, but it is important to be aware of them.Another possibility would be that the immune system of a very sensitive dog, just like with meat, eventually becomes sensitized to insect protein.

Can foods with insect protein be considered a vegetarian or vegan diet?

No. Because insects are living animals. Nevertheless, people increasingly use the word entomo-veganism when they do not eat animal products other than insects (entomo from the ancient Greek entom: insect).There are three main reasons why people choose a vegetarian or vegan diet:

  • Animal love (livestock farming often involves a lot of animal suffering or questionable practices from an ethical standpoint).
  • Environmental reasons (livestock farming is one of the top 5 polluting industries).
  • Health reasons (meat or animal byproducts are implicated in many modern health problems).

 Insects are as nutritious as meat. However, the breeding and consumption of insects are much less related to environmental and agricultural problems than the traditional meat industry.For this reason, a diet without meat, but with insects, is often compared to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

There is talk of insects disappearing from nature. Are we accelerating this process by using them as food for our pets?

Do not worry!!!! Eat Small does not use insects caught in the wild. First of all, not all insect species are edible and secondly, this would not be allowed for obvious hygiene, traceability or product quality control reasons. Our foods and treats are all made with delicious insect protein sourced from certified insect farms. They meet all European production and hygiene standards and are 100% free of GMOs, hormones and antibiotics.

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In fact, any dog with any activity level can enjoy WALD (read feeding instructions here).However, the WALD product line is especially good for active dogs because we’ve included a high percentage of insect protein in it: 30% from Hermetia illucens, which is pure insect power! Our recipe also includes sweet potatoes, a highly digestible source of carbohydrates – to quickly provide needed energy when needed – and amaranth, a delicious source of soluble fiber. Finally, our fat content reaches 15%, ensuring sports and working dogs a continuous supply of energy during physical activity.

For which dogs was the Eat Smalls URBANE NATUR food developed?

We named our exquisite food URBANE NATURE with dogs that have an urban lifestyle in mind. This typical city dog would most likely live in an apartment and not necessarily have a garden behind the house where he could run around and play freely. He goes for walks with his masters and mistresses and visits the green areas of the city: parks, public gardens, dog parks. He accompanies his owners in the neighborhood to do the shopping, waiting for them at the store doors or under the table when they have a drink on a terrace. These dogs have a normal or sometimes low activity level.That is why we have used less insects in the recipe of URBANE NATURE than in the WALD recipe for active dogs. It contains 20% mealworms compared to 30% Hermetia illucens in WALD. The other ingredients are all highly digestible: golden millet, lentils and oats, which are rich in prebiotics. They ensure a balanced energy intake for a modern urban lifestyle.

Will Eat Small develop a line of food for cats?

Yes! Cat food is definitely on our agenda, but you have to be a little patient.As many cat owners know, our cats have a very specific need for nutritional nutrients and especially protein. Insects are an exceptional source of protein, but for a variety of reasons, the two species of insects we work with (Hermetia illucens and Tenebrio molitor) are not the preferred choice for cats. We want to find the perfect insect species for cats to develop the most delicious and nutritious food for them.

Should a healthy dog that does not suffer from allergies feed on insects?

Veterinarians believe that we should not give a healthy dog food from insects, so that a possible alternative remains in case the dog develops a food allergy in his life. What do we think about this?the majority of food allergies in dogs are directed against meat proteins. The interest of veterinarians in insect food is, of course, that it can be used as an elimination diet for dogs suffering from food allergies.When an allergy is suspected, the idea is to feed a protein that the dog has never eaten in the past. The following should be achieved: First, diagnose the allergy (new protein => the body no longer recognizes the allergen => symptom resolution = diagnosis) Second, keep the dog symptom-free in the long term.If the dog has eaten different meats in the past (e.g., chicken, beef, lamb, pork), they can no longer be used to diagnose an allergy because the body has already been exposed to them. If the symptoms do not improve with the test, the veterinarian does not know if it is a false negative or if the dog has a problem other than allergy. In a dog that has already eaten several types of meat, veterinarians sometimes have to work with exotic meat (e.g., kangaroo) to either make a diagnosis or even keep the dog symptom-free afterward.Insects, in this sense, are an interesting source of protein for dogs that have eaten all types of meat or are allergic to everything because the molecular structure of insect DNA is very different from that of mammals. For this reason, veterinarians prefer to keep insects as the last source of protein for these more problematic dogs.However, insects also have many other characteristics, and a very important one is the fact that they are much more environmentally friendly to manage compared to farm animals. If we compare the same edible quantity (meat and insects), insect production requires little food, hardly any water and little space. It also emits virtually no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere compared to meat production. They are therefore a sustainable and environmentally friendly source of high-quality protein – seen in a global context where ways must be found to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The meat producing industry is one of the main causes of global warming! 20% of the world’s meat production is used to make pet food!We believe that the ecological potential of insects is too important to keep them solely for feeding allergic dogs. They should be given to as many dogs as possible to reduce the world’s meat consumption. And if a dog eating insect-based food becomes allergic to insects, he can switch to a food with meat. It’s the same principle as with meat allergy – just the other way around.