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...with pet health as top priority

Petgood x Research

Science underpins everything we do, from product concept and development through to our customer support. We work closely with industry and academic experts in their fields such as veterinarians, nutritionists, and leading academic researchers, to develop optimal nutrition products for pets.

Our lead veterinarian, Dr Nicky Sluczanowski, is in charge of our product development and research work. She leads our scientific projects together with our research partners, and is today one of the most prominent veterinarians in the world in the field of insect-based nutrition for dogs and cats. She has appeared in numerous articles and podcasts.

Get to know Nicky


Nicky is a small animal veterinarian from Adelaide, Australia, with extensive clinical experience. In Adelaide, she still works part-time caring for dogs and cats (and the occasional kangaroo) at the Adelaide Animal Emergency & Referral Centre. She also shares her home with her two cats Winter and Autumn, and loves bee-keeping!

Podcasts with Nicky


Below are a few of the podcast episodes that our lead vet Nicky has participated in to share her knowledge on developing insect based food.

Study among pet owners shows improvement in allergy symptoms after switching to insect-based diet

In the spring of 2024, Petgood collaborated with Ellinor, student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. For her thesis project, Ellinor conducted a survey to investigate how pet owners to dogs with allergies perceived their dogs' symptoms after switching to an insect-based diet. The results were overwhelmingly positive, with a large majority noticing an improvement in their dogs' symptoms.

For dogs with diagnosed food allergies, the results showed that 79% of pet owners reported an improvement in all symptoms (itching/skin irritation/red paws, ear infections, coat problems, and gastrointestinal symptoms) after switching to an insect-based diet.

Study on Petgood Adult Cat confirms supported health

A new study, based on Petgood's Adult Cat food, has evaluated health and nutrition parameters such as palatability, digestibility and gut micriobiota. Overall, this study showed that our dry food is readily accepted by cats, yields optimal faecal consistency, and had suitable nutrient digestibilities with new leads for impact on feline gut health.

The key study findings for our insect-based cat food are:

100% of cats readily accepting the feed


The diet had very high palatability, where all cats that participated liked the food and continued eating it throughout the study - they liked it so much they even continued after the study was finished!

High nutrient digestibility


The Petgood diet had a high overall nutrient digestibility and a protein digestibility at over 85%. This is in line with values for premium cat food made from traditional protein sources.

This means that the cats could easily digest the food, and absorb the nutrients in their bodies.

Increases in beneficial gut bacteria


The diet stimulated gut microbiota activity, leading to increases in gut bacteria considered beneficial, and decreases in gut bacteria linked to digestive problems.

Increase was seen in species such as Bifidobacterium and Megamonas, considered beneficial for gut health. Significant reduction in bacteria of the Clostridium-species was also noted, associated to digestive issues and negative for gut health.

Research summary on insects in pet food

Before insect-based products were launched on the market, research began to ensure the nutritional value and safety of these foods. Studies have had different focuses, where some have looked at the nutritional composition, others at how it as food affects various parameters of the animal that consumes it. Below we summarise the current state of research on insect protein for dogs and cats.

Why we use the larvae of the black soldier fly


Petgood’s insect-based products are based on only one animal protein source, insect protein. The insect species used is the larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens).

There are several reasons why the larvae of the black soldier fly was chosen as the basis for our diets.The larvae are incredibly nutritious and are rich in protein, essential amino acids and beneficial fatty acids. They are resistant to diseases and have a naturally fast growth, which means that antibiotics, pesticides or growth hormones never need to be used in production. Insect protein is also sustainable as it requires significantly less resources in the form of feed, land and water to produce the same amount of protein, and causes lower greenhouse gas emissions compared to more traditional protein sources.

The species is globally spread and is not considered a pest or potential disease vector. The larvae of the black soldier fly is a species controlled and approved for consumption by both humans and domestic animals in the EU since 2016.

Nutritional value compared to the needs of the dog and cat


Studies that have evaluated the nutritional content of black soldier fly larvae have, among other things, analyzed the amino acid profile and compared it with the needs of dogs and cats. Other studies have looked at the digestibility of the individual amino acids, that is, how well the animal's digestive system can absorb them. The result is that black soldier fly larvae have a high amino acid content of essential amino acids (McCusker et al, 2014), and a high digestibility of individual amino acids (Bosch et al, 2016).

Safety and digestibility in cats and dogs


Digestibility is a measure of how much of a nutrient the body can absorb. Simplified, what you do is feed the animal with the protein, and then measure in faecal samples how much of the nutrient the animal has been able to absorb. Good digestibility of protein is considered to be above 80%, and the protein of black soldier fly averages around 85%, that is, a high digestibility (El-Wahab et al, 2021; Penazzi, 2021; Sungho, 2021; Yi hu 2020).

Other studies have looked at safety, that is, to evaluate whether the insect-based diet has an impact on parameters such as stool quality, blood values, coat quality or other clinical findings. The studies' conclusion is that the insect-based diet is safe, where participating animals have maintained good values ​​and been healthy throughout the study. (Freel et al 2021; Kröger, 2020)

How we develop our recipes


Petgood's veterinary team together with animal nutrition specialists develop all recipes to ensure that the food meets and/or exceeds the nutritional recommendations issued by FEDIAF. Great focus is placed on ensuring that our recipes provide the best possible nutrition, and where possible help prevent disease and provide the best conditions for the animal's health. All our feeds are complete and balanced diets, which means that they meet all the nutritional needs of the dog or cat.

Published article on health benefits of insect fat


Petgood Lead Vet Dr Nicky Sluczanowski co-authored a scientific paper investigating the current research into the potential applications of Black Soldier Fly (BSF) fat for pet nutrition. You can access the full article here.

The paper detailed the following:

  • Ageing Canine Brain Health: The medium chain triglyceride (MCT) Lauric Acid is predominant in BSF fat and may have significant applications as a supplement for ageing canine brain health. Potential areas for future research is applications for dementia and epilepsy in canines.

  • Antimicrobial activity: BSF fat has documented strong anti-microbial properties against pathogenic bacteria species including Salmonella typhimurium, E. coli, Clostridium perfringens and Pseudomonas aureginosa.

New study on dental health benefits

Eight dogs were fed a black soldier fly larvae meal-based extruded diet over a period of 50 days, in a cross-over study. The black soldier fly diet was compared to a control diet with a similar nutrient and ingredient composition but based on poultry by-product meal, for the same 50-day period.

Results showed potential of insect-based food to suppress bad breath and improve oral health in dogs.

Improvements in oral microbiota


A 7% reduction in VSC-producing bacteria in the dental plaque was discovered in the group eating a diet based on Black Solider Fly Larvae-meal. VSC-producing bacteria are responsible for bad breath and dental and gum disease.

Meal from the Black Soldier Fly Larvae seems to modulate saliva microbiota; the BSFL-group also demonstrated an increased abundance of Moraxella bacteria, according to the metagenomic analysis (using 16s rRNA gene sequencing). This group of bacteria is considered a marker of oral health and beneficial for the oral microbiome.

Breath evaluation


Dogs presented a trend of a lower score for bad breath (odour intensity scale) when fed a black soldier fly larvae diet, compared to chicken.

References & studies on insect protein for pets

Below you will find a selection of the scientific studies published on the subject of insect protein for cats and dogs.

Amino acids & digestibility

Amino acid content of selected insect species


Sarah McCusker, Preston R. Buff, Zengshou Yu and Andrea J. Fascetti (2014), “Amino acid content of selected plant, algae and insect species: a search for alternative protein sources for use in pet foods”, Journal of Nutritional Science (2014), vol. 3, e39, page 1 of 5
DOI: 10.1017/jns.2014.33

Abstract: In response to global economic duress and heightened consumer awareness of nutrition and health, sustainable and natural ingredients are in demand. Identification of alternative sources of nitrogen and amino acids, including taurine, may help meet dietary requirements while fostering sustainability and natural feeding approaches. Twenty plants, eighteen marine algae and five insect species were analysed. All samples were freeze-dried, hydrolysed and filtered prior to amino acid analysis. Samples for amino acids were analysed in duplicate and averaged. Nitrogen was analysed and crude protein (CP) determined by calculation. With the exception of taurine concentration in soldier fly larvae, all insects exceeded both the National Research Council’s canine and feline minimal requirements (MR) for growth of all essential amino acids (EAA) and CP. Although some plants and marine algal species exceeded the canine and feline MR for growth for EAA and CP, only very low concentrations of taurine were found in plants. Taurine concentration in insects was variable but high, with the greatest concentration found in ants (6·42 mg/g DM) and adult flesh flies (3·33 mg/g DM). Taurine was also high in some macroalgae, especially the red algal species: Mazaella spp. (4·11 mg/g DM), Porphyra spp. (1·22 mg/g DM) and Chondracanthus spp. (6·28 mg/g DM).

Preliminary results suggest that insects and some marine algal species may be practical alternatives to traditional protein and supplemental taurine sources in pet foods. Safety, bioavailability, palatability and source variability of alternative items as food ingredients should be investigated prior to incorporation into canine and feline diets.

In vitro digestibility and fermentability of selected insects


Bosch et al (2016) In vitro digestibility and fermentability of selected insects for dog foods. Animal Feed Science and Technology Volume 221, Part A,November 2016, Pages 174-184

Abstract: Here we aimed to evaluate the protein quality of larvae of the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens, BSF), housefly (Musca domestica, HF) and yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor, YMW) and to evaluate the fermentation characteristics of their indigestible fractions. Clean freeze-dried larvae were subjected to in vitro simulated canine gastric and small intestinal digestion. Undigested insect residues, shrimp chitin and fructooligosaccharides (positive control, FOS) were incubated for 48h with inoculum with fresh feces from three dogs simulating large intestinal fermentation. The AA profiles differed among the larvae with proteins from BSF and YMW larvae containing more Val and less Met and Lys than HF larvae. The in vitro N digestibility of the HF (93.3%) and YMW (92.5%) was higher than BSF larvae (87.7%). The BSF larvae also had lower in vitro digestibility values for essential AA (92.4%) and non-essential AA (90.5%) compared to the larvae of the HF (96.6 and 96.5%) and YMW (96.9 and 95.3%). Gas production for FOS increased rapidly during the first 6h. Low and similar amounts of gas were found for HF larvae and chitin whereas gas production slowly increased over 30h and was slightly higher at 48h for BSF than for chitin. Gas production for YMW increased considerably between 6 and 20h. At 48h, gas produced for undigested residues was comparable to shrimp chitin and lower than FOS (P<0.001). Incubation with insect residues resulted in more N-acetylglucosamine than with shrimp chitin (P<0.05), suggesting higher microbial degradation of insect chitin. Fecal microbiota from one dog appeared to be better able to ferment the undigested residue of YMW as gas production increased considerably between 6 and 20h of incubation and was higher than for the microbiota from the other two dogs. The associated metabolite profile indicated that acetate, propionate and butyrate were the main fermentation products. Furthermore, formate was produced in relatively high amounts. It is concluded that the protein quality, based on the amino acid profile and digestibility, of selected insect larvae was high with the undigested insect fractions being at least partly fermented by the dog fecal microbiota.

Digestibility and safety of dry black soldier fly larvae meal


Tarra A Freel, Alejandra McComb, Elizabeth A Koutsos “Digestibility and safety of dry black soldier fly larvae meal and black soldier fly larvae oil in dogs”, Journal of Animal Science, Volume 99, Issue 3, March 2021, skab047

Abstract: Two trials were conducted to assess the acceptance, safety and digestibility of diets containing various inclusion levels of partially defatted black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae (BSFL) meal and BSFL oil by dogs. In trial 1, 5 extruded diets were evaluated for acceptance in adult Beagle dogs (n = 20; 10 male, 10 female) during a 48-hr period. Diets contained graded levels of BSFL meal (5.0%, 10.0%, and 20.0%), or graded levels of BSFL oil (2.5% and 5.0%), and all diets were well accepted. Thus, a digestibility trial (trial 2) was run with 56 adult dogs (16 male, 40 female) allocated into 7 dietary treatments; dogs were offered an extruded control diet containing no BSFL meal or oil, or extruded diets where BSFL meal partially replaced poultry by-product meal and corn meal at dietary levels of 5%, 10%, or 20% inclusion, or diets with BSFL oil partially replacing poultry fat at a 1:1 ratio at levels of 1%, 2.5%, or 5% inclusion. The treatment diets were fed for 28 d, during which time dogs were monitored for health (via physical examinations, clinical observations, and blood chemistry and hematology) and ingredient evaluation (via body weight, feed consumption, stool observation, and fecal nutrient apparent total tract digestibility). There were no significant differences in body weight or food consumption between treatment groups (P > 0.05) and daily observations indicated that the general health of the animals was maintained throughout the study. Stool quality was maintained at 3.2 to 3.4 (on a 5-point scale with a score of 1 being watery diarrhea and a score of 5 being hard, dry, and crumbly) per treatment group over the fecal observation period (days 22 to 27), indicating a well formed, sticky stool. All group mean hematology and blood chemistry parameters remained within normal limits for dogs. Apparent total tract digestibility of dry matter, protein, fat, and calories was not affected by treatment (P > 0.05). In general, amino acid digestibility was not impacted by treatment although some minor changes were observed. Apparent total tract digestibility was high for all nutrients examined.

Overall, it was concluded that BSFL meal and BSFL oil are well tolerated by dogs and their consumption results in no impact to physiology that would be concerning. Based on these data, BSFL meal and oil did not affect general health and could be included safely in dog diets.

Dogs & insect-based feed

Black soldier fly as a sustainable protein source of canine food and its impacts on nutrient digestibility and fecal quality


El Wahab et al. (2021) Insect Larvae Meal (Hermetia illucens) as a Sustainable Protein Source of Canine Food and Its Impacts on Nutrient Digestibility and Fecal Quality, Animals2021,11(9), 2525

Abstract: Insect larvae meal has been proposed as a sustainable protein source for animal diets. This study aimed to provide information on including black soldier fly larvae meal (BSFL;Hermetia illucens) in comparison to poultry meal (PM) in the canine diet with regard to digestibility and fecal characteristics. In light of this trend, the levels of PM or BSFL meal were added to replace about 30% of dry matter of the basic extruded diet. Six Beagle dogs (BW 9.64 kg) were included in a cross-over experiment. Dogs fed a BSFL meal-based diet showed higher (p< 0.05) apparent protein digestibility (82.3%) compared to those offered a PM-based diet (80.5%). Apparent digestibility for fat was higher (p< 0.05) in groups fed the BSFL meal-based diet (94.5%) compared to those offered the PM-based diet (91.6%). The fecal consistency scores for dogs fed both diets were within an acceptable range (well-formed and firm). Fecal dry matter content was higher (p< 0.05) for dogs fed the PM-based diet (33.0%) compared to those offered the BSFL meal-based diet (28.0%). Including BSFL meal in dog food can be an appropriate source of protein without any negative effects on nutrient digestibility and fecal quality

Digestibility of an extruded complete dog food containing black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae meal as protein source


Penazzi et al (2021) In vivoandin vitroDigestibility of an Extruded Complete Dog Food Containing Black Soldier Fly (Hermetia illucens) Larvae Meal as Protein Source Front Vet Sci 2021 Jun 11;8:65341
DOI: 10.3389/fvets.2021.653411

Abstract: Growing attention is being directed toward insects as a novel and sustainable source of protein for pet food. The aim of the study was to evaluate nutrient digestibility of a diet containing black soldier fly larvae as its main protein source. Moreover, the purpose of the study was to compare the traditionalin vivototal collection method with thein vivomarker method andin vitrodigestibility method. Two isonitrogenous and isoenergetic dry diets containing either venison meal (CTRL diet) or black soldier fly larvae meal (BSF diet) as their primary sources of proteins were fed to six adult dogs, according to a Latin square design. The digestibility of nutrients was determined using bothin vivo("total collection" and "internal marker" approaches) andin vitromethods. The two diets showed similar nutrient digestibility values for dry matter, organic matter, ether extract, ash, and phosphorus. However, a statistical trend (p= 0.066) was observed indicating greater protein digestibility in the BSF diet compared with the CTRL diet. Calcium digestibility was higher in the BSF diet compared with the CTRL diet (p= 0.018). On the contrary, fiber digestibility was lower in the insect-based diet compared with the venison diet (p< 0.001). There was no difference between total collection and internal marker methods in the assessment ofin vivodigestibility for any of the nutrients considered. Thein vitrodigestibility values for dry matter, organic matter, and crude protein, as well as the estimatedin vivodigestibility of organic matter and crude protein by the means of the predictive equation, were aligned with thein vivoresults, althoughin vitro estimations were consistently higher compared with those obtained byin vivo analysis.

Conclusion: Digestibility analysis of a dog food containing insect meal as the sole source of protein (36.5% inclusion) showed promising results in terms of it presenting similar values as a meat-based diet, indicating its suitability as a sustainable protein source for pet food. Moreover, the study showed that both thein vivo marker method and thein vitro method could be possible alternatives to the traditional total collection method in digestibility trials.

Evaluation of supplementation of black soldier fly larvae in beagle dogs


X.J. Lei, T.H. Kim, J.H. Park, I.H. Kim (2019) “Evaluation of supplementation of defatted black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae meal in beagle dogs”, Ann. Anim. Sci., Vol. 19, No. 3 (2019) 767–777

Abstract: The objective of this experiment was to test the effects of supplementation of defatted black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae (BSFL) meal in beagle dogs. A total of nine healthy female beagles (initial body weight 12.1 ± 1.76 kg) were fed grain-based diets with three levels of BSFL meal (0, 1% or 2%) in a 42-day feeding trial. At the end of week 6 of the experiment, all dogs were intraperitoneally challenged with escherichia coli lipopolysaccharide (LPS) at 100 μg/kg of body weight. Albumin concentration was linearly increased with increasing BSFL meal level (P<0.05). A linear increase (P<0.05) in calcium concentration was observed when increasing dietary BSFL meal. Although dietary treatments did not affect the digestibility of ether extract, the digestibility of dry matter and crude protein were linearly increased with increasing the level of BSFL meal. The concentration of tumor necrosis factor-α was linearly decreased but glutathione peroxidase (GPx) concentration was linearly increased when increasing the level of BSFL meal at 6 h after challenge (P<0.05). In addition, there were quadratic increases in concentrations of GPx and su- peroxide dismutase with increasing dietary BSFL meal level at 3 h after challenge (P<0.05).

These findings from the present study demonstrate that BSFL meal can be supplemented in the diet to convert beneficial effects to beagle dogs, indicated as improved digestibility of dry matter and crude protein and anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidative capacity.

Evaluation of an extruded diet for adult dogs containing larvae meal from the black soldier fly


Susan Kröger, Carolin Heide , Jürgen Zentek (2020), “Evaluation of an extruded diet for adult dogs containing larvae meal from the Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens)”, Institute of Animal Nutrition, Department of Veterinary Medicine, Freie Universität Berlin, Königin-Luise- Str. 49, 14195, Berlin, Germany

Abstract: Insects have experienced an increasing interest as a protein source in recent years. However, their suitability as a protein source for dogs was not yet widely investigated. Therefore, the aim of the study was to compare two extruded diets for adult dogs containing either larvae meal from black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens; HI) or lamb meal as the predominant protein source with regard to apparent fecal nutrient digestibility and the influence on fecal and immunological parameters. Twelve Beagles were used in this cross-over study and divided into two groups. The test diet with 200 g/kg HI larvae meal (HI) was compared with a control diet containing lamb meal (CON). Dogs were fed each diet for a period of five weeks. Blood samples for a complete blood count, lymphocyte phenotyping and lymphocyte proliferation tests were taken at the end of each feeding period. The latter was either mitogen- or feed antigen-induced with different protein concen- trations of HI larvae meal (30–500 μg protein/mL). Fecal samples were collected for five days during each feeding period. The coefficient of the total apparent fecal digestibility (CTTAD) of macronutrients, fecal metabolites, the output and the dry matter content of the feces were analyzed. D-Glucosamine as indicator for chitin was analyzed by high-performance anion-ex- change chromatography with pulsed amperometric detection in the diet and the feces. The chi- tinase activity was determined in the feces. The fecal output was reduced in dogs fed the HI diet (P = 0.038). The CTTAD of dry matter was higher (P = 0.002) when dogs were fed HI compared to CON (0.832 vs. 0.818) and the CTTAD of crude protein was higher (P = 0.002) when dogs received CON compared to HI (0.792 vs. 0.773). Concentrations of acetate (P = 0.011) and ammonium (P = 0.001) were higher in CON. The fecal score differed (P = 0.041) between HI (2.25) and CON (2.04), but both feeding groups had a formed and dry fecal consistency. The chitin concentration was numerically higher in the feces of dogs fed HI (92.2 g/kg DM) compared to CON (2.9 g/kg DM), the fecal chitinase activity did not differ between both diets. Complete blood counts, lymphocyte phenotyping and proliferation were not affected. In conclusion, the HI larvae meal in a dry dog diet was tolerated without adverse signs and did not affect immuno- logical measurements compared to a commercial dry diet with lamb meal, indicating that larvae meal from HI can be considered an “alternative” protein source for dog nutrition.

Replacement of poultry by-product meal by black soldier fly larvae meal in diets for dogs


B. Agy Loureiro, R.K. Nobrega Cardoso, R. Silva Carvalho, W.A. Zamora Restan, M. Dalim, N. Martin Tome and A. Paul (2023). Book of Abstracts of the 74th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science. LINK.

The study evaluated the use of black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) meal in diets for dogs on digestibility, intestinal fermentation end-products and faecal microbiota. Two kibble iso-nutrient diets were developed using either poultry by-product (PBP) meal or BSFL meal as main protein. Eight beagle dogs were assigned in a cross-over design, with 2 treatments (diets) and 2 periods of 50 days each (with 7 days of wash-out between periods). In the first period, 4 dogs received either the PBP diet or the BSFL diet, while in the second period the diets were inverted. At day 15 of each period, dry matter, organic matter, crude protein and fat digestibility; and metabolizable energy (ME) were determined by total faeces collection method for 5 days. Volatile fatty acids and ammonia were analysed in fresh faecal samples collected on days 21 to 24 of each period. After each period (50 d) fresh faeces were collected for metagenomic analysis using bacterial 16s rRNA marker gene sequence. Nutrients digestibility was similar between the food treatments, except for fat digestibility and diet ME, which was higher when dogs were fed BSFL food (P=0.01). Faecal ammonia was lower (151 vs 94 mmol/g faeces) when dogs were fed BSFL in comparison to PBP (P=0.004). BSFL diet promoted changes in faecal microbiota, with a significant difference in beta diversity, with taxa dissimilarity by Unifrac (P=0.036). BSFL diet promoted a higher relative abundance of Bacteroides (P=0.040), responsible to contributes to intestinal permeability; and Phocaeciola (P=0.028), considered a biomarker of human health. On the other hand, BSFL reduced the abundance of Lachnospira (P=0.003), positively correlated with intestinal butyrate production, despite no diet differences found for volatile fatty acid in faeces. In conclusion, the use of BSFL meal in dog diet didn’t affect the use of nutrients, but increased diet fat digestibility and ME; reduced faecal ammonia, and positively modified the faecal microbiome of dogs, favouring some beneficial bacteria genera.

Cats & insect-based feed

Black soldier fly larvae meal in an extruded food: effects on nutritional quality and health parameters in healthy adult cats


Bosch, G., Loureiro, B.A., Schokker, D., Kar, S.K., Paul, A., & Sluczanowski, N. (2024). Black soldier fly larvae meal in an extruded food: effects on nutritional quality and health parameters in healthy adult cats. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed.

Abstract: We aimed to evaluate the effects of including black soldier fly larvae meal (BSFL) meal in a dry extruded food on nutritional quality and some health aspects in healthy adult cats. Two dry extruded foods with either poultry meal (control) or 37.5% BSFL meal were fed to eight (3.8-5.2 kg BW; 2.3-y.o.) cats in a cross-over design with two 28-day periods. Food acceptance was recorded throughout the study and samples were collected during the last 7 days of each period for assessment of apparent total tract nutrient digestibility, faecal consistency, fermentation products and microbiota, and blood biochemistry and haematology. Foods were well-accepted and faeces were well-formed with optimal consistency scores. Digestibility values for dry matter, organic matter, nitrogen and gross energy were considered high for the BSFL meal-based food but lower than for the control food (P<0.05). Unexpectedly, inclusion of BSFL meal had a profound impact on the intestinal microbial activity and composition as illustrated by increased faecal short-chain fatty acids (P<0.05) and biogenic amines concentrations (P<0.05) and reduced bacterial diversity (P<0.05) and shifts in multiple genera (e.g. more Bifidobacterium) in the faeces (P<0.05). Minor changes in haematology and serum biochemistry parameters were found and deemed not clinically relevant. Overall, this study showed that a BSFL meal-based extruded dry food is readily accepted by healthy adult cats, yields optimal faecal consistency, had suitable nutrient digestibilities and can support their health when fed for 28 days with new leads for impact on feline gut health.

Insect meals as novel protein sources in wet pet foods for adult cats


Yi Hu et al (2020). PSVI-26 Insect meals as novel protein sources in wet pet foods for adult catsGet access Journal of Animal Science, Volume 98, Issue Supplement_4, November 2020, Page 315.

Abstract: As the human and pet populations increase, the human and pet food industries will experience a greater demand for animal-based protein sources. Finding alternative proteins that are nutritional adequate and safe for companion animals may contribute to diversification of protein sources and lower the demand for animal-based protein in pet food products. However, limited information is available on the nutritional value of insects for pet animals. Thus, the object of this study was to evaluate three different insect meals, Speckled cockroach (SC; Nauphoeta cinerea), Madagascar hissing cockroach (MC; Gromphadorhina portentosa) and superworm (SW; Zophobas morio larvae), added at the expense of chicken meal (control diet), as protein sources in retorted feline diets. This study was a complete randomized design, with a total of 28 cats (mean age = 2.1 ± 0.03 yr; mean BW= 4.9 ± 0.8 kg) randomly assigned to 1 of the 4 dietary treatments. All animal procedures were approved by the University of Illinois Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee. All diet formulated meet or exceed the AAFCO (2018) nutrient profile. The experimental period was 28 d in length, with 7 d of diet adaptation (control diet) followed by 21 of feeding the assigned experimental diets. Fecal samples were collected at the last 4 d of experiment. All diets were well digested by the cats, and apparent total tract digestibility of dry matter (86.5–88.1%), organic matter (88.9–90.6%), fat (90.1–92.3%), crude protein (86.3–89.4%) did not differ among treatments (P > 0.05). Fecal scores were not affected by dietary treatment, ranging from 1.8 to 2.2 (5–point scale). Similarly, fecal branched-chain fatty acids, indole and phenol concentrations did not differ among treatments. Overall, the selected insect meals tested herein had no negative effects on macronutrient digestibility, fecal characteristics and metabolites, or overall health of adult cats.

The effects of a semi-synthetic diet with inclusion of black soldier fly larvae meal on health parameters of healthy adult cats


Julia Guazzelli Pezzali, Anna Kate Shoveller (2021). The effects of a semi-synthetic diet with inclusion of black soldier fly larvae meal on health parameters of healthy adult cats Journal of Animal Science, Volume 99, Issue 10, October 2021.

Abstract: In recent years, black soldier fly larvae meal (Hermetia illucens; BSFLM) has gained attention as a high value alternative protein source that is of great interest to the pet food industry. However, little is known regarding the effects of BSFLM on health parameters in adult cats. Thus, the objective of the current study was to determine the short-term effects of a semi-synthetic diet containing 4.6% inclusion of BSFLM on complete blood count (CBC) and serum biochemistry profile of healthy adult cats. Healthy adult male cats (n = 8; 1.4 yr) were fed the experimental diet for 21 d (experimental period) to maintain BW. Cats were washed in on a commercial diet and blood samples were collected before the start and at the end of the experimental period to measure gross health parameters. Results were analyzed as one-way ANOVA using the GLIMMIX procedure in SAS with cat as a random effect (SAS v. 9.4, The SAS Institute, Cary, NC). Cats lost an average of 5% of their BW (P = 0.0003) due to a concurrent decrease in food intake. A significant increase of alanine aminotransferase, chloride, potassium, sodium, mean corpuscular hemoglobin, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration was observed on day 21 vs. baseline (P < 0.05). In contrast, albumin, amylase, calcium, cholesterol, eosinophil, lymphocyte, monocyte, mean platelet volume, red blood cells, total protein, total solid proteins, and urea decreased over time (P < 0.05). However, all CBC and serum biochemistry parameters stayed within reference range for adult cats, with exception of glucose and mean corpuscular hemoglobin concentration that were above and below the reference range, respectively. Transient increases in glucose concentrations were likely due to sedation with dexmedetomidine prior to blood collection. The changes observed over time in the aforementioned parameters are likely due to changes in macronutrient composition of the diets offered prior to and during the experimental period (commercial diet vs. semi-synthetic diet, respectively) and cannot be attributed solely to a unique property of BSFLM. In conclusion, cats fed a semi-synthetic diet containing 4% BSFLM inclusion for 21 d remained healthy with no clinically relevant changes in CBC and serum biochemistry parameters.

Black soldier fly larvae as an alternative protein source for canine and feline diets


Do, Sungho (2021) Black soldier fly larvae as an alternative protein source for canine and feline diets. Dissertation at Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Abstract: The overall objective of this dissertation was to evaluate the nutrient composition of BSFL, its amino acid (AA) digestibilities using a precision-fed cecectomized rooster model, and its effects on palatability, apparent total tract digestibility (ATTD), fecal characteristics, and skin and coat health markers of healthy adult cats. Our first aim was to determine the effects of harvest age on nutrient and AA digestibility and digestible indispensable amino acid score (DIAAS)-like values of BSFL using the precision-fed cecectomized rooster assay. The BSFL were harvested at six different ages (days after hatch; day 0, 11, 14, 18, 23, and 29). Our second aim was to evaluate the effects of BSFL dietary calcium form and concentration on nutrient composition, nutrient and AA digestibilities, and DIAAS-like values for BSFL using the precision-fed cecectomized rooster assay. Calcium chloride (CaCl2) and calcium carbonate (CaCO3) were used to raise BSFL at different concentrations (1.2% of CaCl2, 1.2% of CaCO3, 0.75% of CaCO3, and 0.6% of CaCl2 and CaCO3). Our third aim was to determine palatability and ATTD of BSFL-containing canned diets, fecal characteristics, and skin and coat health markers of healthy adult cats consuming them. Cats were fed the canned diets formulated with poultry by-product meal (PBPM), BSFL meal, whole BSFL, and BSFL oil. In our first aim, we determined that all harvest ages of BSFL were contained high-quality protein that were well digested, but AA digestibilities were highest at days 14, 18, and 23. Threonine, Met, Cys, and Arg often were the first-limiting AA of BSFL based on DIAAS-like reference values for dogs and cats. In our second aim, we determined that nutrient and AA digestibilities were high (81% to 96% digestibilities), but not different among BSFL fed different calcium sources and concentrations. Aromatic AA (Phe + Tyr) and sulfur-containing AA (Met + Cys) often were the first-limiting AA based on DIAAS-like reference values for dogs and cats. In our third aim, we reported that the intake ratios were higher in cats fed canned diets containing BSFL meal (1.93:1), whole BSFL (2.03:1), and BSFL oil (1.57:1) compared with a poultry-based control diet. Fecal pH and scores and caloric intake were not different (P > 0.05) among diets, but fecal output (as-is, DM, and kcal/d) was highest (P < 0.05) for cats fed BSFL meal compared with those fed BSFL oil. The ATTD of acid-hydrolyzed fat (AHF) was not different among treatments, while DM ATTD was greater (P < 0.05) for cats fed the BSFL oil diet than for those fed the BSFL meal diet. The ATTD of OM by cats fed control or BSFL oil diets was greater (P < 0.05) than for those fed the BSFL meal or BSFL whole diets. For crude protein (CP) and energy, ATTD was greatest (P < 0.05) for cats fed the BSFL oil diet and lowest for those fed the BSFL meal diet. Skin and coat health markers, including skin transepidermal water loss (TEWL), skin hydration status, hair imaging score, and skin and coat hair scores were not affected (P > 0.05) by treatments. Similarly, hematology and a delayed-type hypersensitivity (DTH) response to saline, phytohaemagglutinin (PHA), and concanavalin A (CONA) showed no differences (P > 0.05) among diets. A select serum metabolites were affected by diet (P < 0.05), but remained within reference ranges. This research provided information on the potential for using BSFL in pet foods. Based on our results, the suggested harvest age of BSFL ranges between 14 and 23 days because these ages provide the highest protein quality. Black soldier fly larvae raised with calcium chloride and calcium carbonate accumulate more calcium, but protein quality was similar. Finally, BSFL-derived ingredients hold strong potential for use in pet foods, whether it is included in extruded or canned foods.

Chemical composition of selected insect meals and their effect on apparent total tract digestibility, fecal metabolites, and microbiota of adult cats fed insect-based retorted diets


Reilly et al (2022). Chemical composition of selected insect meals and their effect on apparent total tract digestibility, fecal metabolites, and microbiota of adult cats fed insect-based retorted diets. J Anim Sci 2022 Feb 1;100(2)
DOI: 10.1093/jas/skac024.

Abstract: Insect meals are novel and potentially sustainable protein sources. The objectives of this study were to determine the nutrient composition of speckled cockroach, Madagascar hissing cockroach, and superworm (SW) and to determine the effects of these insect meals on food intake, digestibility of macronutrients, fecal scores, metabolites, and microbiota of adult cats fed insect- or chicken-based wet pet foods. Among the three selected insect meals evaluated, oleic acid, palmitic acid, linoleic acid, and stearic acid were the most prevalent fatty acids. Branched-chain amino acids and arginine were the most preponderant indispensable amino acids in these insect meals. All diets were well digested by the cats with no differences observed on macronutrient digestibility. Similarly, fecal scores did not differ among the treatments and were within the ideal range. No differences in fecal metabolite concentrations were observed. Only a few genera from Firmicutes and Bacteroidota phyla differ in cats fed SW diet in contrast to other dietary treatments. Overall, the selected insect meals evaluated herein are rich in linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid for cats. Insect-based retorted diets led to comparable results to those achieved with a chicken-based retorted diet, suggesting that these novel protein sources might be adequate alternative ingredients in feline diets.

Health benefits of insect protein

Feeding Insect Protein to Dogs with Food Allergies - from the Owner’s Perspective


Hammarberg (2024). Feeding Insect Protein to Dogs with Food Allergies - from the Owner’s Perspective. SLU Epsilon Archive.

Abstract: Dogs, much like humans, can suffer from allergies. In cases of food allergies in dogs, veterinarians often recommend a hydrolyzed diet, where the protein is broken down, so the immune system doesn't recognize it. An alternative to hydrolyzed diets is feeding the dog with a hypoallergenic protein source, such as insects. This study was conducted in collaboration with Petgood, a company that produces pet food based on protein from the black soldier fly larvae (Hermetia illucens). A survey was distributed to pet owners through their customer database, targeting dogs diagnosed with food allergies that eat or have eaten feed based on insects. The aim was to investigate whether insect protein is a viable alternative for dogs with food allergies from the perspective of pet owners. Two smaller studies have examined insect diets for dogs with food allergies, but the conclusions are limited due to small sample sizes. In this study, 79% of pet owners reported that their dogs, with only diagnosed food allergy symptoms improved all symptoms after the food switch. The symptoms evaluated included itching, skin irritation, red paws, ear infections, coat quality, and gastrointestinal symptoms.

Clinical application of insect-based diet in canine allergic dermatitis


Lee et al (2021). Clinical application of insect-based diet in canine allergic dermatitis. Korean Journal of of Veterinary Research, 61 (4).

Abstract: The objective of this study was to evaluate the beneficial effects of the short-term ap- plication of insect-based diet in canine allergic dermatitis. Total 19 atopic dogs with concurrent cutaneous adverse food reactions were enrolled and classified into 3 groups. The treatment group (n = 7) was fed insect-based diet, the positive control group (n = 6) was fed salmon-based diet, and the negative control group (n = 6) was fed commercial or homemade diet for 12 weeks. The degree of skin lesions was evalu- ated based on canine atopic dermatitis extent and severity index (CADESI-4). Addi- tionally, transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and pruritus visual analog scale were evalu- ated. All indices were evaluated every 4 weeks after the initial administration of hypo- allergenic diets. In the treatment group, significant decrease in the CADESI-4 score was observed at 8 weeks compared to the baseline score (= 0.031). There were sig- nificant differences in the CADESI-4 score between the groups at 8 weeks (= 0.008), 12 weeks (= 0.012), and TEWL at 12 weeks (= 0.022). This preliminary result demonstrates the potential hypoallergenicity of an insect-based diet through features that diminish cutaneous lesions and skin barrier dysfunction.

Effect of an insect protein-based diet on clinical signs of dogs with cutaneous adverse food reactions


Böhm TMSA, Klinger CJ, Gedon N, Udraite L, Hiltenkamp K, Mueller RS. Effect of an insect protein-based diet on clinical signs of dogs with cutaneous adverse food reactions. Tierarztl Prax Ausg K Kleintiere Heimtiere. 2018 Oct;46(5):297-302. English, German.DOI:

The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of a new commercially available, insect protein-based diet on the clinical signs in those dogs via Canine Atopic Dermatitis Lesion Index (CADLI), Pruritus Visual Analogue Scale (PVAS) and coat quality score. A total of 20 dogs with atopic dermatitis due to previously diagnosed adverse food reaction were included in this study. This food was the only food fed to the patients for 2 weeks. The lesion score improved in 12 out of 20 dogs in. Only two dogs out of 15, which completed the study, showed mild deterioration of their lesions (on average by 1.5 CADLI points). One dog's skin lesions were unchanged. Pruritus could be reduced in eight patients but remained unchanged in four dogs. Two further patients deteriorated minimally (on average by 1.5 pruritus score points) and one dramatically (8 pruritus score points). The coat quality was only evaluated in 14 dogs. Six of 14 dogs showed an improvement in coat quality. The improvement of the lesion scores (Wilcoxon test, p = 0.007) and coat quality (Wilcoxon test, p = 0.01) was significant, there was no significant change in pruritus scores (p = 0.53). The palatability was very good the compatibility was except for one patient very good. Based on these results, the investigated insect protein-based diet is an interesting alternative for dogs with food intolerance.

Potential application of black soldier fly fats in canine and feline diet formulations


Ghina Kotob, Nicky Sluczanowski, Shahida Anusha Siddiqui, Nuria Martin Tome, Monika Dalim, Paul van der Raad, Kees Aarts, Aman Paul (2022). Potential application of black soldier fly fats in canine and feline diet formulations: A review of literature. Journal of Asia-Pacific Entomology, 25 (4)

Abstract: Black soldier fly (BSF) larvae derived ingredients are being considered as sustainable alternatives to conventional animal derived ingredients in pet food formulations. In Europe, legislations permit the use of BSF fat in pet food formulations. However, BSF fat has received very little attention from pet food producers till now. This article examines literature regarding fatty acid profile and some minor components reported in BSF fat. Literature on digestibility, antimicrobial activity, intestinal immunity, and brain health improvement potential has also been carefully reviewed. Finally, some examples of pet food brands using BSF fat commercially were mentioned, and compilation of consumer review scores from popular review websites have also been illustrated. Literature reviewed in this article indicate that BSF fat is highly digestible and has interesting health benefits, thus supporting its use as functional pet food ingredient.

Black soldier fly larvae meal based extruded diets: potential to improve canine oral health


Neto et. al (2023). Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae meal based extruded diets: potential to improve canine oral health. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed,1(aop), 1-13.
DOI: 10.1163-23524588-20230098

Abstract: Black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) meal-based pet food is gaining traction in Europe. In order to unlock the full potential of antimicrobial peptides and fatty acids present in BSFL meal, we evaluated the role of BSFL meal containing pet food in modulating the oral health of dogs. During this study eight female beagle dogs were fed with two iso-nutritive diets in a cross-over design with two periods of 50 days each. These diets were made using defatted BSFL meal or low ash poultry by product (PBP) meal as the main protein source. At the end of the first period, the animals underwent a wash out period of 7 days and the treatments were inverted following this treatment. Oral health of dogs was measured by: (1) count of colony forming unit of volatile sulfur producing bacterial (VSC) in dental plaque; (2) DNA extraction and amplification of 16S rRNA genes from saliva for bacterial profiling; and (3) oral malodor scoring. We found significant reduction of VSC (P<0.05) before and after 50 days of BSFL based pet food consumption. Oral malodor score was not significantly different before and after BSFL based pet food consumption. However, there was a strong tendency for malodor reduction related to BSFL fed groups (P=0.097). Finally, there was a significant difference (P<0.05) between treatments in the relative abundance of Moraxella, with higher abundance in dog’s saliva when fed BSFL diets. This bacterial group is identified as a marker of oral health. In conclusion, the consumption of BSFL meal-based diets has strong potential to decrease VSC and positively modulates the saliva microbiota, which can suppress the occurrence of halitosis and improve oral health.