Critters & Companions: Decoding Bug Safety for Pets

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By David

Disney cartoons routinely depict puppies and kitties frolicking with crickets, butterflies, ladybugs, and other whimsical critters. It’s always a colorful and picturesque scene. However, understanding the critters in your yard and home is crucial, as certain bugs can pose genuine dangers to our beloved furry companions.

The moment you open the sliding doors, Fido or Fifi makes a beeline for the exit, eager to scamper back and forth across the yard, roll in the grass, and perhaps chomp on a bug or two. Your kitty cat is no different – this stealthy hunter simply loves to stalk prey and even make a meal of it. Don’t fret; it’s what pets do. It’s in their DNA.

Unfortunately, there are some rather unsavory bugs out there, including various parasites, venomous creatures, and toxic toads. Today, we’re focusing on the bugs that are safe to be around your pets, even if they get ingested. As an aside, insects like crickets are nutrient-rich, and people (and animals) around the globe routinely eat them as delicacies.

This practice is prevalent across vast parts of Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Don’t believe us? Consider the Mopani worms in Africa or how ants, wasps, and bees are consumed across Latin America. Crickets, locusts, and katydids are popular in countries like Japan and Thailand. So, don’t be too surprised when your four-legged friend munches on a nutrient-rich bug.

Know the Difference Between Safe Bugs and Unsafe Bugs

In the Western world, many regard bugs as unwanted critters best avoided. But animals will be animals. They act on instinct and don’t concern themselves with human conventions. For cats, hunting is more than a pastime; it’s deeply ingrained in their DNA. They chase, they stalk, and they might even indulge. Dogs, depending on their nature, might behave similarly. And we all want to ensure the well-being of our furry friends. And some bugs can be safe, others unsafe.

Of all the insects out there, butterflies are arguably viewed as the most harmless. This positivity and sense of gentleness are reinforced through portrayals in cartoons like Rainbow Ruby The Butterfly Effect, books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar, and even wildly popular casino titles like Butterfly Staxx and Butterfly Staxx II. But did you know that eating, for example, a monarch butterfly can be harmful to your dog? It has to do with its favored snack, toxic milkweed. So chewing on a butterfly might require a trip to the vet for your pooch.

Certain bugs present a clear danger to our pets, and these are the ones we, as pet owners, should be vigilant about. They include creatures with stingers, venom glands, toxins, acid, and those carrying parasites, viruses and dangerous bacteria. It’s challenging to categorize every insect as safe or unsafe, but the following bugs are generally considered harmful to your pets:

  • Roaches, fleas, ticks, and mosquitoes – Cockroaches can introduce harmful bacteria when ingested, potentially upsetting your pet’s stomach. Fleas are parasitic and can cause infestations and infections. The same goes for ticks, though they might be even more harmful. While mosquitoes might be safe to consume, their bites can be harmful since they can transfer heartworm larvae.
  • Ladybugs – The red and black bugs we cherished in childhood can be harmful to pets due to the irritating chemicals they release.
  • Wasps, fire ants, bees, scorpions, spiders – As you might expect, these creatures can be harmful to pets. Some might necessitate emergency medical attention if ingested or if a severe reaction occurs.
  • Slugs, snails, earthworms, and other slimy critters – While they might seem harmless, these garden dwellers can introduce internal parasites into your pets, leading to diseases like tapeworm, hookworm, lungworm, and more.

While numerous bugs are relatively benign around your pets like crickets, regular ants, perhaps a termite or two, it’s wise to steer clear of any with pincers, venom glands, or those carrying parasites, harmful bacteria, and viruses. If you ever notice your fur baby acting strangely after eating a bug, activated charcoal and a vet visit are likely your best courses of action. Knowledge empowers you to ensure the well-being of your pets, always keeping them happy and healthy.