Tuggs better than raw? Our research with Glasgow University students

November 25, 2022

  • “Overall we concluded that the puppies being fed the Tuggs insect protein diet had a better body condition score than those being fed a raw diet.”

  • In order to assert the nutritional value of Tuggs’ insect-based dog food, Tuggs worked with Mordor Gundogs, the renowned gundog breeder in Perthshire, to trial our insect-based dog food against premium raw dog food. We enrolled veterinary students from the University of Glasgow to run the trials. Overall, we wanted to test whether puppies would put on the same weight as other puppies fed premium raw dog food (to discern the digestibility of our insect-based food), and examine their energy levels, stools and overall body condition. We ran similar tests for other working dogs.

  • We were very lucky to be able to run these trials on almost genetically-identical puppies: the puppies’ mothers (Daffy and Wussy) were sisters and the puppies had the same father. Wussy’s puppies were fed raw dog food, whilst Daffy’s puppies were fed Tuggs’ insect dog food.

  • Over the course of 3 months, both sets of puppies were fed the same number of calories per day and weighed every two days. At the end of the trial, it was concluded that both sets of puppies put on the same weight and that “overall the puppies being fed the insect protein diet had a better body condition score than those being fed a raw diet”.

  • We were also very grateful that Dr Sheldon Steinmetz, a member of the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons as well as a graduate from the University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine in 1987 who holds an M.S. in Nutrition from the University of Florida, was able to observe part of our trial.

  • “I visited Mordor Gundogs in the summer of 2022 for 10 days where I inspected the young puppies who were trialing Tuggs insect-based food. I observed two litters of Labrador puppies approximately the same age who shared the same father and had mothers who were closely related. This was advantageous as the puppies were therefore genetically very similar meaning strong conclusions could be drawn by comparing the progress of each litter.

  • There was a clear difference in size and condition between the puppies who were fed Tuggs and the other litter being fed raw.

  • I would say that the other big advantage of Tuggs cooked diet over raw is that a raw diet always carries risks of E.coli and salmonella (chicken-based) amongst other bacteria. By gently cooking their meals, Tuggs removes this risk without compromising the nutritional value of the food.

  • Overall my conclusion is that I can see an upside to feeding Tuggs over both a raw diet and also a dry processed diet.

  • The main conclusions by the students were as follows:

  • Observations taken by:

  • Bryant J. Maloney, Veterinary Student, BVMS 1, University of Glasgow School of Veterinary Medicine, B.S. Animal and Veterinary Sciences Minor in Biological Sciences Clemson University

  • Brooke G. Webber, Veterinary Student, BVMS 1, University of Glasgow, School of Veterinary Medicine, Bachelor of Science in Animal Science Washington State University

  • Many observations were made while conducting a food trial attempting to compare a diet containing a portion of insect-based protein to a raw meat diet in puppies. The diet containing the insect protein (Black Soldier Fly larvae) was fully cooked and was, therefore, easier and safer to handle. A fully cooked diet contains fewer bacteria and is less likely to grow unsafe amounts of bacteria compared to a raw diet. The insect diet also proved to defrost from frozen quicker than the frozen raw meat packages. Additionally, the raw meat diet smelled considerably worse than the insect diet, although this is a subjective observation.

  • Both diets proved to be extremely palatable as each respective litter showed high amounts of interest in the diet provided.

  • The litter being provided the insect diet generally seemed to produce larger amounts of faeces day-to-day, despite having a smaller litter size (6 compared to 8 in the litter being provided raw meat). Inspection of the faeces led to the discovery of rock and/or grass-eating habits in both litters. However, the litter eating raw meat showed more evidence of grass eating compared to those eating the insect diet, and the litter eating the insect diet showed more evidence of rock-eating compared to those eating the raw meat diet. Perhaps this can be attributed to the litters being held in slightly different environments (the litters were kept in separate paddocks) or possibly it is evidence of each diet lacking a vital nutrient(s) the puppies were trying to obtain through the grass and/or rock-eating. Neither litters displayed any obvious signs of gastrointestinal upset.

  • Overall we concluded that the puppies being fed the insect protein diet had a better body condition score than those being fed a raw diet. Although, this could be attributed to the fact that the two litters were fed different amounts per head of each diet. The litter fed the raw meat diet was given 920 grams per head per day, while the insect protein diet puppies were fed 933 grams per head per day as of June 17th. We were originally feeding the raw meat diet puppies at 5% of their total body weight, to begin with, however, due to the puppies being housed outdoors in Scotland (cold weather), we decided to up their food to closer to around 9% of their body weight by June 17th. We did this because it is best to feed dogs by monitoring their body condition in the environment they are in. However, if this study were to be done again we would want to compare the nutrient compositions of each diet, specifically looking at the protein and fat compositions to determine exactly how much food to feed per day while also adjusting the amount of diet by monitoring body condition score; to ultimately be feeding equal amounts of protein of each diet (insect protein-based vs raw meat diet).

  • Whilst we will continue our research and compare Tuggs against some of the leading dog foods in the UK, we are delighted with the results of our initial trial and have further stories to follow.


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