The first part is because my dog-owning friends have sent me images of potentially toxic beetles that they found their dogs munching on, or about to munch on. Even though domestic dogs primarily are carnivores, its well known that many dogs will eat other stuff if they can get their paws on them. Garbage, scraps...etc. It should be no surprise then that many dogs, if given the opportunity, will eat bugs. Especially if it peaks their hunting instinct, and they get to chase them around. There is a whole blog article musing about why dogs eat bugs, but for the most part its not really that dangerous. But, what if the beetle they do decide to go after IS actually a problem? Well, the two beetles that my friends sent me images of actually CAN cause a problem, and here is why.
|Black Blister Beetle. Image of Epicauta pennsylvanica by Bruce Marlin. From wikipedia.com|
My friend that caught her dog actually munching on the beetle before spitting it out unfortunately had her dog dealing with some of the symptoms of the cantharidin: upset stomach, hurting mouth, and other irritation. My other friend caught the beetle before her puppy could find it. Its unlikely that the dogs would die from eating one beetle, but if enough are eaten they can get fatal cantharidin poisoning, which is a major problem in horses.
Not all animals have problems with poisonous insects, however. Poison dart frogs, for example, actually use the poison in the bugs they eat to make the poison on their skin to protect themselves. In fact, the poison in some dart frogs are some of the strongest poisons known on earth! How the frogs get the poison from their diet to their skin without dying from it is still an active area of research. However, its known that captive-bred dart frogs are not nearly as poisonous as their native colleagues because they don't have access to poisonous insects from their native habitat.
|Captive poison dart-frog, which doesn't have the toxins.|
If you have a dog here in Oklahoma, 99% of the bugs and beetles your dog may eat are not going to be a problem for them. You are more likely going to have problems with your dog eating garbage, poop, coffee, or chocolate than you are with a small beetle. However, if you do find a beetle that looks like the Blister Beetle above and your dog is showing some symptoms of an upset stomach, you may want to have your dog checked out due to the exposure to cantharidin. More than likely it will be nothing, but better safe than sorry.
Have a Happy Holiday!