Insect food as a rescue for allergic dogs – – information portal


“We want the miller’s mealworm food to be a typical veterinary food that eliminates diseases such as diet-dependent enteropathies. Therefore, we will monitor the effectiveness and safety of use in companion animal feeding. We care about our patients and we intend to guarantee the owners of the animals that the food will not cause allergies “- announces the project leader.

She adds that preventing food allergies should not be confused with treatment, so insect food will not be a “medicine” but a product formulated according to the principles of evidence-based medicine.

Diet-dependent enteropathies are a growing problem. As much as 33 percent. dogs are allergic to one or more ingredients present in pet foods.

“In my medical and veterinary practice, I had cases of dogs with symptoms so severe that they could not eat any of the standard foods available on the market – they showed some allergy symptoms in each of them. Diet-dependent enteropathies in dogs are manifested, under others due to skin lesions; dirty ears, overloaded anal glands, cyclic diarrhea also occur “- says a veterinarian who practices in the clinic and works scientifically at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of the University of Warmia and Mazury in Olsztyn.

Practice does not confirm a correlation between race and the occurrence of these diseases. Dr. Gałęcki’s team plans statistical research to expand knowledge about allergic diseases in dogs.


A group of about 30 dogs from veterinary clinics are given the chance to eat mealworms. During the feeding process, scientists will perform a thorough microbiome examination, blood count and biochemical tests, histological analyzes and even computed tomography and equally important gastroenterological tests – that is, they will look into the gastrointestinal tract of their patients with an endoscope. The planned phases of the trial are similar to the drug testing process.

To start with, scientists will develop five feed recipes based on the miller’s mealworm. In the first phase, they are tested on laboratory animals. Researchers investigate whether the food has a positive effect on the organisms of rats and how it is accepted by them. Then one of the recipes that are best for the animal body and the most efficient are selected (and patented). At this stage, thorough immunological and histological examinations will begin, which are still performed in rats. Scientists will evaluate the effect of the food on the functioning and physiology of the digestive tract. Only after the tests show a positive (or no negative) effect on the test animals will the dog studies begin, with the consent of their owners.

“Environmental factors have a very significant influence on the clinical status of veterinary patients. Therefore, we will first contact a company that will test dog food under controlled conditions. If the positive effects of feeding animals with insect-based food are confirmed, then we move on to clinical and development studies.” – announces Dr. Gałęcki on.

He admits that he has already tested the “flavors” of the trial batch of “insect food” on his Weimar pointer. The female dog was very happy to eat them.

Photo private archive of Remigiusz Gałęcki


Insects are eaten by our dog’s ancestors, ie by wolves. Therefore, in food shortages, dogs can also be “optional insect eaters.” However, the described food does not mean that the dog’s food bowl suddenly contains the so-called worms. “Insects will undergo a transformation process and the food itself will be delivered to the animal in the form of a so-called crunch, similar to commonly used meat food. This is very important from the point of view of the acceptance of food by animal owners. Dogs are not themselves picky (unlike cats) and if this food is acceptable to them in terms of smell and taste, the shape itself is less important “- says Dr. Gałęcki.

Of course, “insect” food requires such a technological process that the dog willingly eats it. However, the point is not to add the smell of smoked sausage – the doctor strongly emphasizes that the pets should not be given smoked products.

The new food is not just intended as an alternative for allergy sufferers. According to the assumptions, it should become a living food, that is, an animal that can eat it all its life.

The scientist emphasizes that insect protein is at least equivalent to the protein in meat foods. It ensures that the dog can develop sufficiently and function properly.

“Insect protein is more digestible and more digestible for dogs than even dried poultry protein. It has little effect on the immune system. Unfortunately, the substrates added to commonly used feeds (which appear in the feed under puzzling names) are one of the reasons for the increased incidence of diet-dependent enterophysics ”- concludes the vet.



“Veterinary entomology is the science of insects that bite us and insects that we can bite” – jokes Dr. Gałęcki. The first branch of this science is edible insects, ie unconventional farm animals. In the EU, this category includes 7 species of insects. The second part is vermin, ie insects found in animal feeds and products intended for human consumption. The third part deals with ectoparasites – insects that can be vectors for many infectious diseases.

The miller’s mealworm was once considered a meal and grain pest. With the course of research and experimentation, its nutritional potential has been noticed. Today it can be used in the so-called upcycling – during the breeding of insects, high-quality insect meal is produced.

The project was accompanied by research into the acceptance of insects as a vegetarian product. It turned out that some people accept insects in a vegetarian diet, with the exception of vegans, who do not eat animal products.

Scientists are preparing the ground for collaboration with companion animal feeding companies. The recipe of the pet food is protected by a patent and the license makes it possible to market the product together with an industrial partner. Karma has a chance to gain a competitive advantage. Currently, the law does not regulate the nomenclature of household and dietary foods, so the term “hypoallergenic” does not guarantee that its effectiveness has been verified. Black fly larvae have appeared on the market, but no publications or approvals have yet confirmed their hypoallergenic properties.


Linking insect farming (dynamically developing in Poland) with dog food raises hopes for successful cross-sector collaboration. The project also has an important scientific dimension. For 3 years, the “leader” of the project will employ 9 people in the research team. The main contractors, except Dr. Gałęcki, will be specialists in veterinary medicine, biology and economics. Maria Hanuszewska-Dominiak, veterinarian and animal technician, will deal with histology, ie microscopic examination of tissues. Gastroenterologist Ewa Kaczmar examines the pets’ digestive tracts and performs a CT scan. Economist Paulina Pukin-Sowul will conduct market research into the acceptance of such feed by pet owners. Microbiologist from Lodz University of Technology dr hab. Justyna Szulc will test the gut microbiota of dogs consuming the new food, ie the effect of insect protein on the bacteria in the digestive tract of dogs. As part of the team’s work, scientific publications will also be prepared by doctoral students.

The National Center for Research and Development will allocate nearly 1.5 million PLN to “Development of insect protein food for companion animals with diet-dependent enteropathies”.

PAP – Science in Poland, Karolina Duszczyk
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published: 15/05/2022
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