Published on International Journal of Food & Nutrition
Publication Date: August, 2019
O. S. Ibitoye, O. S. Kolejo & D. S. Muritala
Onigambari Forest Reserve, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN)
Forest-Based Rural Resource Centre, Forestry Research Institute of Nigeria (FRIN)
Dogs are important to man, the responsibility of determining the best suitable food for the pet rest on their owners. The common sources of animal protein in dogs’ food in Nigeria are beef, mutton, and fish. Insects, as opposed to these protein sources, are more environmentally sustainable. This study aims to test the willingness of dog owners to use edible insects as a suitable alternative for conventional animal protein sources in dog food. The data were sourced using purposive sampling method, 120 households with dogs were selected and structured questionnaires were administered to each dog owners in Oluyole Local Government Area, Oyo State, Nigeria. The results of the study revealed that the consumption of insects by dogs is greatly influenced by their owners. Dog owners’ income significantly affects the choice of food given to their dogs. There are positive responses toward benefits of including insects in dog food, although most of the respondents have not fed their dogs with insects in the past, they will buy insects in dog foods if they are available. The strongest benefit perceived was that there will be less pressure on other meat sources if insects are raised to feed dogs while the weakest perceived benefit was that insects are easy to rear. Dog owners perceived that there is poor awareness of insects farming for pet food in the area since there are no known industrial farms in the area. Health challenges such as diseases and bioaccumulation of metals and pesticides by insects were ranked highest as the factors affecting insect usage in dog food. Therefore, this study recommends supplementing conventional animal protein sources by insects, since pet owners are strongly willed towards the use of insects in dog food.
Keywords: Dog; Insect-pet food; Conventional meat; Alternative protein.
Dogs are the most successful canids worldwide to have adapted to human habitation through domestication (Ugbomioko et al., 2008). They share a mutual relationship with a man (Amudu et al., 2010) therefore they are regarded as man’s best friend (Ikram, 2013; Murphy, 2005). They provide us with companionship by contributing to our emotional well-being, reducing loneliness and increasing our social activities. Dogs also helps man in many societal ways such as therapy dog (Jones et al., 2018), police dog (Tadeusz et al., 2014), medical alert and detection dog (Pesterfield et al., 2014) and assistant dog (Natalie et al., 2002) which are commonly seen in Nigeria. Dogs contribute to the livelihood of Nigerians by selling them to make a profit, hunt with them and in some communities in Nigeria they often consume them. In turn, pet owners are saddled with the daily responsibility of caring for their pets. The choice of food given to pets influences their behaviour, health, physical activities and general well-being (Kelly et al., 2013). Dogs require a balanced diet for optimum activities, and they can digest varieties of food.
The common animal protein consumed by humans and dogs in Nigeria is beef, chicken, milk, fish, mutton, cheese and egg (Adekunmi et al., 2017; Abdulraheem et al., 2016). The quantity of animal protein needed by humans will double by 2050 (Van Huis, 2013) alternative animal protein source is needed for both humans and their dogs. Many pet companies both locally and internationally produce low quality dog food in other to maximize profits (Rolinec et al., 2016; Fadeyemi and Akinleye, 2011). Fadeyemi and Akinleye, (2011) reported variations in the concentration of the crude protein present in the dog food and the concentration written on the pack label among dog food brands sold in vendors in Ibadan Nigeria. Although the provision of protein in a dog diet is important, the available sources are environmentally unsustainable and very expensive for low-income earners. Edible insects can be used as an alternative to expensive animal protein sources in conventional dog food.
Using insects as an alternative source of protein in animal feeds is becoming globally recognized (Harinde et al., 2014; Stamer, 2015; Bosch et al., 2014; Kierończyk et al.,2018). The rising interest in insects as an alternative protein source in pet food is reflected in the scientific literature (Bosch et al., 2014; Kröger et al., 2017; Lie et al., 2019). This study may determine the future success of using insects as the source of animal protein in dog food and increasing the marketplace’s willingness to buy insect-based dog food. In addition, it can also provide information on the acceptance or rejection of the use of insects as pet food. Therefore, it is pertinent to study the willingness of dog owners on the use of insects in dog food to draw a strategic development plan on how to enhance nutrients in dog food. We hypothesized that dog owners will reject using insects as a replacement for conventional protein sources in dog food. Therefore, the objective of the study is to determine the dog owners’ willingness to supplement dog food with edible insects. Also, to test their knowledge of the associated benefit and factors that are hindering them from using edible insect as an alternative meat source.
2. Materials and Methods
2.1 Study Sites
Oluyole is a Local Government in Oyo state; its capital is located at Idi Ayunre. Its coordinates fall between 7.3215° N, 3.8707° E with an area of 629 km² and a population of 202,725 at the 2006 census. The average annual temperature is 26.5 °C and rain falls on an average of about 1311 mm of precipitation annually. January is the driest month, while the peak rainfall comes around June. Occupants of these areas engage in mixed occupation and the area falls towards Oyo–Ogun state boundary with a large span of arable land for farming. Onigambari forest reserves and Mokore River are among the many monuments in the area. This area applies to investigate the willingness-to-acceptance of insects in dog food because families in this region cut across all social strata; also it is a common practice of the people of the region to raise a dog for one reason or the other.
2.2 Sampling procedure and data collection
A total of 120 households with at least one dog were purposively sampled for an interview. The study questionnaires were divided into four sections. First, the questionnaire captured demographic information and socioeconomic status of the households, including age, gender, marital status, religion and household size (Table 1). Most of the respondents were 20 to 30 years (33.3%) and most were male (88.7%). The majority were civil servants and Christian. Most dog owners live on less than $2.7 and 45% of the population owns between two to three dogs. Most of the respondents kept their dog for their appearance and guard duties (Figure 1)
Secondly, participants were interviewed about the general acceptability of insects as food. Questions were asked relating to their dogs and the owners. This was on a two-point scale: 0= yes, 1= no. Thirdly, participants were asked questions to test them on future willingness to buy insects containing food for their dogs. They were asked to relate their level of agreement based on a five-point scale: 1= definitely will not buy, 2= probably will not buy, 3= maybe or maybe not, 4= probably will buy, 5= definitely will buy. Participants were asked about their perceptions of benefits associated with the use of Insect as an alternative to animal protein in dog food. They were asked to indicate their level of agreement on a five-point Likert scale with response categories: 1 = strongly disagree; 2 = disagree; 3 = neither agree nor disagree; 4 = agree, and 5 = strongly agree. Lastly, dog owners were asked about their perceptions of the factors affecting the use of Insects as an alternative to animal protein in dog food, using the same Likert scale-based options as described above.
2.3 Statistical analysis
Data analysis was done using IBM SPSS Statistic 23 (IBM Corp., Armonk, NY, USA). Descriptive statistics such as mean, frequency and percentage were used to analyze the demographic and socio-economic status of dog owners. Chi-square was used to determine the relationship between dog owners’ income and the source of food they give their dogs. Multiple response analysis was used to test the acceptance level and willingness of the respondents to purchase dog food containing edible insects or substitute the conventional animal protein source with edible insects.
3.1 Dog owners’ willingness to use edible insects in dog food
Dog owners’ income significantly affects the choice of food they give their dogs (Table_ 2). Lower-income dog owners feed their dogs with leftover food. Dog owners’ willingness to accept the use of edible insects in dog food is presented in Table_3. Almost half (41.7%) the number of the respondents eat insects, although a low percentage (11.7%) of the respondents agreed to have fed their dogs with insects as the animal protein source. Only a few percentages (5%) of dog owners accepted to rear insects for their dog despite agreeing that insects are nutritious (81.7%) and that insects required balanced diet (93.3%). There were positive responses regarding future wiliness to buy dog food enriched with edible insects (Figure_2). More than half of the respondents gave a positive response regarding the willingness to buy dog food enriched with insects.
Table_1: Demographic characteristics of dog owners
Figure 1: Reasons dogs’ owners keep them
Table 2: Influence of respondents’ income on sources of dogs’ food
Table 3: Dog owners’ willingness to use edible insects in dog food
Figure 2: Future willingness of respondents to buy insects as an alternative to meat in Dog food
Dog owners’ perception of the positive benefits and the risk factors affecting the use of insects in dog food
The results showed a positive perception of the use of edible insects in dog food (Table_4). Dog owners show favourable perception towards environmental sustainability, Nutritional and economic advantages of using edible insect as an animal protein source in dog food. The top-ranked benefit is that there will be less pressure on other meat sources being used i.e. cow and fish (mean = 4.61) and that insect requires less space to be reared (mean = 4.40). Respondents perceived insect to be highly nutritive (mean = 4.22). The weakest perceived benefit was that the insect was easy to rear with a mean value of 2.3.
Dog owners highlighted the factors affecting the use of edible insects in dog’s food Table_5. Lack of awareness of insect farming for food ranked highest (mean = 4.33). Concerns were raised by the respondents on the risk associated with feeding insects to the dog. Factors such as a possibility of transmitting the disease to the dogs through eating insect (mean= 4.17) and bioaccumulation of metals, pesticides and other hazardous substance (mean=4.13) were also ranked high. The weakest perceived factors affecting the use of insects in dog food is that insects are available to use in dog food (mean = 2.87).
Table 4: Dog owners’ perception of the benefits of using edible insects in dog food
Table 5: Dog owners’ perception of the factors affecting edible insect inclusion in dog food
The use of insects for animal feed has received increasing attention worldwide, but their use in dog food is rare. Information about the willingness of dog owners on the use of insects are also limited (Verbeke et al., 2015). This study shows that Dog owners determine what their dog eats and their income significantly affects the food choice/quality they offer their pet. Dogs are mostly fed with leftover food in the study area since the majority of the respondents lived below 100naira per day. This statement is supported by Hambolu et al., (2014) who said that dogs in Nigeria mostly depend on leftover food for sustenance. Leftover foods in most cases have little nutritional values because poor nutrition is a major problem in individuals and families lives in Nigeria (Achor, 2014). Almost half the number of the respondents eat insects, but a low percentage of the respondents agreed to have fed their dogs with insects, meaning that the current acceptance and/or the awareness of insects as pet food among the respondents are low (Verbeke et al., 2015). However, there are positive responses regarding the future willingness of the respondents to buy insect enriched dog food. The use of insects in animal feed is widely documented (Van Huis, 2013; Van et al., 2017; Verbeke et al., 2015; Lie, 2019 ).
Rearing insects to feed dogs was rejected by the dog owners, this may be attributed to the fact that the concept of farming insects for feed is relatively new to them and (Gunya et al., 2019; Verbeke et al., 2015) and there is no established insect farm around the area. Consequently, this can be traced to the reason for the limited knowledge of the concept of insect farming in the study area. According to Payne et al., (2016), many insects can be reared at a relatively low economic and environmental cost. Farming insects use up to 50–90% less land per kg protein, 40–80% less feed per kg edible weight and produces a 1000–2700 g fewer GHGEs (Greenhouse gas emissions) per kg mass gain than conventional livestock. Furthermore, there are many advantages to supplementing other animal proteins in dog food. Attila et al., (2017) reported that insects contain highly diverse nutritional components than commonly consume alternatives and can address nutritional related health concerns such as under-nutrition.
The willingness of pet owners to accept edible insects in their pets’ food has some benefits. According to this study, dog owners believe that accepting insects in dog food will reduce some pressure on other animal sources commonly used. This is in line with Van Huis et al., (2013) which says replacing a part of conventional meat with edible insects implies an end to unlimited harvesting from nature. Insect feed prices are estimated to be higher than those of conventional feed. To address this, it is important to develop automated process technologies for rearing, harvesting, and post-harvest procedures (Gunya et al., 2019). Dog food prices will reduce if mass-producing insect farms and small-scale insect farming is encouraged.
Despite the benefits of using insects as an alternative protein source in dog food, there are some factors affecting its usage. These factors include lack of awareness of the importance of insects farming for food, little knowledge of the techniques associated with insect farming, difficulty in differentiating edible insect from other insects. Respondents raised some concern about their dogs’ health; edible insects can introduce disease to their dogs, deposition of residues of heavy metals and pesticides from insect into their dogs when consumed. Health concerns were also reported by Verbeke et al., (2015) as a major factor affecting the use of insects in animal feed. Gunya et al., (2019) suggest that disease-related to microorganisms can be cured of insects by treating them during processing (washing and thoroughly heating), these processes will sufficiently reduce the bacteria-borne diseases. Disease and chemical substance can be reduced by ensuring a good hygienic environment during production. The weakest perceived factor affecting insect use in dog food was the availability of insects in the area. Ibitoye et al., (2019) reported that seasonal scarcity of insect affects insect acceptance as food and further stated that improve insect farming will address the issue.
In conclusion, dogs are important to man and require optimum care. Insects are nutritious and can be produced sustainably as opposed to the conventional protein sources used in dog food. The current use of insects in dog food is low or almost non existing, but the future willingness to use insect as an alternative protein source in dog food is high. The knowledge of insect farming by dog owners is still low as there is no insect-based industry found in the study area. This cannot be dissociated from poor awareness of insect farming in the study area. Public sensitization on the techniques of rearing insects both in small scale and mass production should be encouraged. Dogs are mostly fed with leftover food, although an increase in income may persuade dog owners to buy processed food for their dogs. Dogs require a balanced diet and their food should be produced at a minimal cost. Improved production and usage of insect is perceived to reduce the cost of dog food. Insects in dog food are perceived to relieve pressure on the alternative sources of animal protein. Dog owners reported some factors that hinder insect usage in dog food, among which poor awareness and health concerns ranked highest. Overall, future willingness to use insects is high, but awareness of insects farming needs to be encouraged through training and extension services.
6. Conflicts of Interest
The authors declare that there are no conflicts of interest among the authors
7. Grants and Awards
The authors received no grant, awards or fellowship for this study