The 4 Best Gut-Loading Products for Your Pet

Written by Angie Menjivar
Updated: March 26, 2023
© Kitmaumau/Shutterstock.com

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Key Points

  • The best overall gut loading product for your pet is Fluker‘s High Calcium Cricket Diet.
  • Whether you have chickens, hedgehogs, or other insect-eating pets, there is a gut-loading product out there for them!
  • Purchasing gut-loading products isn’t the only way to protect your pet’s gut health. You can also ensure appropriate foods, play, and exercise!
  • When shopping for gut-loading products, keep two criterion in mind: the type of pet you have and the contents of the product that you’re considering.
  • Be sure to read our closing section, “How to Protect Your Pet’s Gut Health,” for some health tips that you may not have considered.

If you’re a pet owner, you know all the signs when your pet isn’t feeling well. It’s instinctual: sometimes, the only symptom is a slightly different mood. Only you are able to perceive it. You go through all the possibilities, checking their food, waste, and living environment. You run to the vet when you don’t have an answer. One thing you can do to support your pet’s optimal health is to incorporate gut-loading products. Your pet’s overall health, particularly immune system health, is dependent on a balanced microbiome.  

Even with a biologically appropriate diet, your pet could use help from gut-loading products. Below, we highlight a couple of different kinds for different types of pets. The first we had to highlight is for pets that love munching on crickets! We included different options for reptiles and amphibians. We give you a short summary of each product and share real customers’ experiences and thoughts.  It can be tough selecting the right option, so there’s a guide you can turn to toward the end of this article.

We follow through with some advice on protecting your pet’s gut health, like ensuring plenty of nutrients and exercise, incorporating probiotics when needed, and even adding bone broth to your pet’s food. Just before we leave you, we answer your most frequently asked questions and suggest some more helpful articles to help you track down the best pet products on the market today.

  1. Fluker's High Calcium Cricket Diet, 11.5-Ounce
    • Available in two convenient sizes
    • High nutritional value
    • Gut loader AND vitamin and mineral concentrate
    • High-calcium for optimal nutritional value for your pet
    • Highly rated by verified customers
    Check Amazon
  2. Fluker's Calcium Reptile Supplement with Added Vitamin D3
    • Available in 2- and 4-ounce containers
    • Rich in vitamin D3
    • Promotes healthy bones and vital bodily functions
    • Phosphorous-free
    Check Amazon
  3. Dried Mealworms from Hatortempt
    • 10lb bag
    • Non-GMO dried mealworms
    • Great for reptiles, birds, amphibians and more
    • Non-spoiling
    • Doesn't require refrigeration
    • 100% natural and preservative- and additive-free
    Check Amazon
  4. Insecta-Load Gut Load for Feeder Insects
    • Perfect for crickets, roaches, mealworms and superworm
    • Perfect calcium to phosphorous ratio
    • Rich in vitamins A, E, and D
    • Feed this product 1-2 days before feeding to your pet
    • Highly rated by verified customers
    Check Amazon

A-Z-Animals’ Top Picks for the Best Gut-Loading Products for Your Pet

#1 Best Overall Cricket Gut Loaders: Fluker’s High-Calcium Cricket Diet

The best overall gut loading product for your pet is Fluker‘s High-Calcium Cricket Diet. This comes in either an 11.5-ounce pack or a 6-pound pack. This is ideal for insect-eating pets because it allows them to benefit from the nutritional value of the insect itself as well as the insect’s nutrient-gut content. Plus, it delivers added calcium to your pet’s diet. It’s a gut loader and a vitamin and mineral concentrate. You can use this as the primary source of food for both crickets and most other feeder insects.

Also, you can keep all of the insects on this diet until the moment when you feed them to your pets! To make sure that you’re getting the most out of this product, make sure that you feed the insects to your pet the day after they’ve consumed this high calcium diet. This ensures optimal nutrition and calcium intake. As a side note, you may be interested in knowing that this is the exact same formula Fluker Farms uses to raise millions of crickets per year.

Customers rate this gut-loading product 4.7 out of five stars. One customer gives a heads up that her roaches and isopods like it too. She purchased this gut loader for several species of roach including some hissing and lobster roaches. She realized that all her other species ran to it also. Even more so than fresh fruits or veggies! Another customer uses this gut-loading product to feed his worms. He sprinkles a little bit on top of the soil every two days.

Of course, a product with no negative reviews is almost unheard of. A few reviewers reported that their jars of this product were moldy. One said that there were mites in the food while another said that there were “hitchhiking beetles.”

Pros and Cons of Fluker’s High-Calcium Cricket Diet

ProsCons
This high-calcium cricket diet is available in an 11.5-ounce pack or a 6-pound pack.A few reviewers reported that their jars of this product were moldy.
This product increases the nutritional value of insects that you feed to your insect-eating pets, including their nutrient-gut content.One reviewer that there were mites in the food.
It is high in calcium.Another buyer said that there were “hitchhiking beetles” in their product.
You can keep all of your feeder insects on this diet until the moment you feed them to your pet.
Best Overall
Fluker's High Calcium Cricket Diet, 11.5-Ounce
  • Available in two convenient sizes
  • High nutritional value
  • Gut loader AND vitamin and mineral concentrate
  • High-calcium for optimal nutritional value for your pet
  • Highly rated by verified customers
Check Amazon

2. Best for Reptiles: Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3

If you have a reptile or amphibian that is kept indoors, Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added vitamin D3 is a must-have calcium supplement that incorporates vitamin D3. If you have a reptile or amphibian that you keep outdoors and is under very intense UVB, you can use Fluker’s calcium without the extra vitamin D3. This gut-loading product is available in a 4-ounce or 2-ounce container and helps to promote healthy bones and vital bodily functions.

This is one of those supplements that’s key to your reptile’s or your amphibian’s health. It’s ideal for all the different stages of life and it doesn’t matter what your primary source of food is for your pet. You could feed fresh and alive, or dehydrated, but still, you need flash frozen calcium. If you’re concerned about products containing phosphorus, you can rest easy because this one is phosphorus-free. Instead, you get a product that provides the calcium required for your pet’s strong and healthy bones!

Customers rate this product 4.7 out of five stars. Some customers have been using this product for well over 10 years and call it a great purchase because it lasts a whole month of feeding every other day. One verified buyer says she uses it for her iguana and a bearded dragon. She doesn’t have to use very much of it. Instead, she just makes sure that their foods are lightly covered with a couple of sprinkles. Another thing she mentions is that it does not come with a scoop; she just uses a teaspoon.

One reviewer wished that this product had a sprinkler because “it’s messy.” Another said that it doesn’t stick well.

Pros and Cons of Fluker’s Calcium Reptile Supplement with added Vitamin D3

ProsCons
This calcium supplement contains added vitamin D3, which is ideal for reptiles and amphibians that are kept indoorsIt should not be fed to reptiles or amphibians that you keep outdoors under very intense UVB.
This gut-loading product is available in 4-ounce and 2-ounce containers.One reviewer wished that this product had a sprinkler because “it’s messy.”
It promotes strong, healthy bones and vital bodily functions.Another reviewer said that it doesn’t stick well.
It’s appropriate for reptiles and amphibians at every stage of life regardless of their primary food source.
It’s phosphorus-free.
Best for Reptiles
Fluker's Calcium Reptile Supplement with Added Vitamin D3
  • Available in 2- and 4-ounce containers
  • Rich in vitamin D3
  • Promotes healthy bones and vital bodily functions
  • Phosphorous-free
Check Amazon

3. Best Bulk: Hatortempt Bulk Non-GMO Dried Mealworms

If you’re looking for a bulk option for your reptile, amphibian, wild bird, or other pet, this 10-pound bag of Hatortempt Bulk Non-GMO Dried Mealworms is ideal. These mealworms are raised in great conditions, and they are quick-dried to make sure that they’re always crisp and fragrant to attract your pet’s interest. They have a maximum flavor for your pets to enjoy and are super rich in protein, fat, crude fiber, vitamins, and top-grade edible oils.

Whether you have a chicken, hedgehog, sugar glider, or bluebird, these small animals are sure to love these mealworms. The bag is firm and resealable so you can keep them stored in a way that keeps them crisp. You don’t have to refrigerate the bag and it won’t spoil. Plus, you can trust that these are 100% natural, preservative-free, and additive-free.

Customers rate these mealworms 4.8 out of five stars. One customer says that his chickens love them. These were recommended to him by his brother, and he decided to use them as a treat for his birds. He was having difficulty getting his chickens into the coop every evening and he would have to corral them and force them in. Now, all he has to do is shake the can that he put them in, and they come running! Another customer says that her ducks quack like crazy when they think it’s worm time. She can’t speak to their taste (a good thing!), but she knows her birds love them so she’s pleased.

A couple of reviewers were disappointed that these worms came from China and several said that their 10-pound bags were short a few pounds.

Pros and Cons of Hatortempt Bulk Non-GMO Dried Mealworms

ProsCons
These mealworms are raised in optimal conditions and are quick-dried to ensure that they’re always crisp and fragrant.A couple of reviewers were disappointed that these worms came from China.
They are rich in protein, fat, crude fiber, vitamins, and top-grade edible oils.Several reviewers said that their 10-pound bags were short a few pounds.
The bag is resealable.
The bag doesn’t need to be refrigerated after opening.
They are 100% natural, preservative-free, and additive-free.
Best Bulk
Dried Mealworms from Hatortempt
  • 10lb bag
  • Non-GMO dried mealworms
  • Great for reptiles, birds, amphibians and more
  • Non-spoiling
  • Doesn't require refrigeration
  • 100% natural and preservative- and additive-free
Check Amazon

4. Best for Superworms: Castaway Organics Insecta-Load Gut Load for Feeder Insects 

If you’re looking to gut-load superworms or even mealworms, check out Castaway Organics Insecta-Load Gut Load for Feeder Insects. This gut-loading product delivers essential nutrition prior to feeding your reptiles and amphibians. It’s perfect for a couple of different types of feeder insects like crickets, roaches, mealworms, and superworms. If you have your reptile or amphibian on a bug-based diet, you need a gut-loading product like this to make sure that you are prioritizing optimal nutrition.

Insecta-Load was specifically designed to include the appropriate ratios of calcium to phosphorus as well as vitamins A, E, and D. To use, just give your feeders as much of Insecta-Load as they can eat for one to two days before you introduce them to your frog, bearded dragon, chameleon, or skink. Remember that your feeder insects should always be given a little bit less protein just before they are delivered to your pet. With this formula, you get the ideal 12% along with a balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins.

Customers rate this gut-loading product 4.4 out of five stars. They say it’s a convenient way to keep their mealworms plump, healthy, and ready just before handing them over to their pets. One customer explains that he had a hard time keeping his order of 2,000 mealworms plump and gut filled for his bearded dragon. He was constantly noticing that they would die early but now he knows how to prep them. He uses Insecta-Load one to two days before feeding and notices that a little goes a long way. Although initially he was almost dissuaded by the price, he realizes it is completely worth it.

One reviewer said, “When I went to feed my roaches it was crawling with tiny bugs.” Another said, “I had a healthy mealworm colony to produce food for a few of my pets, and after feeding this to my colony all the mealworms are dead the next day, and all the beetles are dying.”

Pros and Cons of Castaway Organics Insecta-Load Gut Load for Feeder Insects 

ProsCons
This gut-loading product delivers essential nutrition to feeder insects like crickets, roaches, mealworms, and superworms prior to feeding them to your reptiles and amphibians.One reviewer said, “When I went to feed my roaches it was crawling with tiny bugs.”
It’s designed to include the appropriate ratios of calcium to phosphorus as well as vitamins A, E, and D.Another reviewer said, “I had a healthy mealworm colony to produce food for a few of my pets, and after feeding this to my colony all the mealworms are dead the next day, and all the beetles are dying.”
Simply give your feeder insects as much of this product as they can eat for one or two days before feeding them to your pet.
Give your feeder insects less protein before feeding them to your pet. With this formula, you get the ideal 12% along with a balance of calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins.
Best for Superworms
Insecta-Load Gut Load for Feeder Insects
  • Perfect for crickets, roaches, mealworms and superworm
  • Perfect calcium to phosphorous ratio
  • Rich in vitamins A, E, and D
  • Feed this product 1-2 days before feeding to your pet
  • Highly rated by verified customers
Check Amazon

How to Choose the Right Gut Loading Products for Your Pet

Choosing the right gut-loading products for your pet can get a little complicated, especially if you are a new pet owner. In the list above, we highlighted some different options for insect-eating pets, reptiles and amphibians, and some mealworms that are perfect for different species (ranging from sugar gliders to wild birds).

Type

Ultimately, the type of gut-loading products you pick for your pet depends on what type of pet it is. If you have a reptile or amphibian, there are different options you can explore and if you are looking for a great option for different types of birds, you can go for dried mealworms. You might even consider incorporating some probiotics into your pet’s diet.

Contents

Just because gut-loading products are labeled as such doesn’t mean that they have everything your pet needs. In fact, it might even incorporate ingredients that your pet does not need. For example, if you have a reptile that you keep indoors, added vitamin D3 is a huge help. However, if you keep your reptile outdoors and it gets plenty of natural sunlight, the added vitamin D3 is not necessary. Make sure that you are double-checking all of the ingredients included in gut-loading products to confirm they are appropriate for your pet.

How to Protect Your Pet’s Gut Health

Gut-loading products aren’t the only way for you to protect your pet’s gut health. Ensuring that your pet has good gut health carries over to general health. Below, we cover some of the actions you can take to ensure that you are protecting your pet’s gut health.

Appropriate Diet

First things first. If you have just picked up a new pet or you are considering a new pet, whether a reptile, amphibian, or even a new bird, make sure that you are following through with the research required to feed them well. There are specifics for different pets and there are also some detailed pieces of information regarding feeder insects you should follow through with to create the optimal conditions for your pet’s nutrition. So long as you lay this foundation, your pet gets the greatest chance at maintaining the best gut health.

Probiotics

Another action you can take with your pet is to introduce probiotics into their regular diet. When you incorporate probiotics, their gut gets populated with good bacteria. This helps balance their microbiome. When the microbiome is balanced, your pet’s immune system becomes stronger. This can help your pet fight off any diseases or infections. However, don’t do this willy-nilly. Make sure that you are communicating with your veterinarian to ensure you are transitioning your pet correctly.

Bone Broth

For some pets, bone broth can also be incorporated. It’s easily digestible and delivers collagen that your pet needs to help detoxify their liver and restore gut health. This can usually be added as part of a meal, and it helps to increase the absorption of nutrients. The added bonus of bone broth is that it improves food’s moisture content, helping to keep your pets hydrated.

Play and Exercise

The other way you can help protect your pet’s gut health is to make sure that your pet is getting the exercise and playtime it needs to thrive. For example, if you have a reptile, make sure that you set up its vivarium in a way that mimics its natural environment. This way, it can feel at ease and behave as it would in the wild. Its natural instincts lead it to explore, climb, bask, and retreat as needed. So long as you set up its environment appropriately and provide the best nutrition, your reptile can thrive.

About the Author

Angie Menjivar is a writer at A-Z-Animals primarily covering pets, wildlife, and the human spirit. She has 14 years of experience, holds a Bachelor's degree in psychology, and continues her studies into human behavior, working as a copywriter in the mental health space. She resides in North Carolina, where she's fallen in love with thunderstorms and uses them as an excuse to get extra cuddles from her three cats.

The 4 Best Gut-Loading Products for Your Pet FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

What can I use to gut load crickets?

Fluker’s has a fantastic calcium product that comes in powder form. It’s perfect for gut-loading crickets. Pets that munch on insects get nutritional value from the crickets themselves, and when you incorporate a high calcium cricket diet for the crickets, your pet benefits from the insect’s nutrient-gut content too!

What can you gut load mealworms with?

If you’re looking to gut load mealworms, you have several different options. For example, you can try incorporating grains and vegetables into their diets. Another option includes fish flakes! Try nutritious fruits and be sure to incorporate a calcium supplement to make them the perfect meal for your pet. We highlighted an option in the list above to gut load feeder insects that include mealworms, superworms, and even roaches.

Is gut loading necessary?

Gut loading is necessary to keep your pets happy, particularly if you own reptiles and amphibians. Dogs and cats benefit from gut products as well, but if you have a pet that relies on feeder insects as its primary diet, what is inside of those insect is ultra-important. With gut loading, you can rest assured that your pet is getting all the nutrients it needs from the insects it’s munching on.

How to gut load?

The term gut loading is most frequently used with reptiles and amphibians and refers to feeding live foods. Those live foods include feeder insects like mealworms, superworms, crickets, and roaches. Gut loading refers to the type of foods you feed the to-be food of your reptile. What the crickets and mealworms eat is important because that nutrition gets transferred over to your pet. Provide your feeder insects with gut loading products to deliver all the nutritional goodness your pet needs.

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