Why Cicadas Could Spell Trouble for Your Pets This Season

Why Cicadas Could Spell Trouble for Your Pets This Season

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With cicadas emerging en masse during their periodic cycles, pet owners might be concerned about their furry friends snacking on these crunchy insects.

While cicadas are not toxic to pets, there are still important considerations and steps to ensure your pet's safety.


 Photo: Pexels
Pets might find cicadas irresistible due to their crunchy texture.

Understanding Cicada Emergence

This year, trillions of cicadas are expected to surface across the U.S., with a notable event: the simultaneous emergence of two different broods—one on a 13-year cycle and the other on a 17-year cycle. This has not occurred in over 200 years and won't happen again until 2037.

As ground temperatures reach 64 degrees Fahrenheit, cicadas rise from their long underground stay to molt, mate, and eventually die, leaving behind numerous exoskeletons on the ground, which pets might find intriguing.


Photo: Pexels
Overconsumption of cicadas can lead to digestive issues in pets.

Are Cicadas Harmful to Pets?

Cicadas are not poisonous to pets. They do not sting or bite and generally pose no toxic threat. However, their hard exoskeleton can cause gastrointestinal irritation if consumed in large quantities.

Dr. Jennie Culen of Thrive Pet Healthcare in Hoffman Estates told CBS News that while cicadas are not dangerous, they can cause problems if pets overindulge, particularly small dogs that may choke on them.


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Small dogs are at risk of choking on cicadas.


Potential Health Issues

When pets consume a few cicadas, they typically experience no severe issues. However, ingestion of large quantities can lead to digestive troubles.

According to Dr. Jerry Klein, chief veterinary officer for the American Kennel Club, dogs that gorge on cicadas might face serious consequences such as abdominal pain, vomiting, bloody diarrhea, and even intestinal blockages due to the indigestible exoskeletons, Fox Weather reports.

Dr. Patricia Ho of Kindred Veterinary, told ABC7 Chicago that while occasional ingestion is harmless, overconsumption can result in vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, and, in extreme cases, intestinal blockages. Monitoring your pet for any changes in behavior is crucial during cicada season.


Signs Your Pet May Have Eaten Too Many Cicadas

Symptoms of cicada overconsumption include multiple episodes of vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy, and signs of abdominal pain.

Dr. Culen advises pet owners to err on the side of caution and contact a veterinarian if their pet exhibits any of these symptoms. In some cases, pets might suffer from allergic reactions. The hair-like structures on cicada legs can cause local irritation or more severe immune responses, similar to shellfish allergies, Fox Weather reports. Dr. Klein points out that these reactions can manifest as intense itching or gastrointestinal distress.

Preventing Cicada Ingestion

Preventing your pet from eating cicadas is the best way to avoid gastrointestinal issues. Here are some strategies to minimize the risk:

  1. Training Commands: Teach your pet commands like "leave it" and "drop it" to deter them from picking up cicadas.
  2. Supervision: Accompany your pet outdoors to monitor their behavior closely. Keeping them on a leash can prevent them from wandering off and eating cicadas.
  3. Environmental Management: Regularly rake and clean up cicada exoskeletons from your yard to reduce temptation. Avoid areas with high cicada activity during walks.
  4. Distract with Treats: Carry treats on walks to redirect your pet’s attention away from cicadas.

Photo: Pexels
Allergic reactions to cicadas are possible in pets.

When to See the Vet

While most cases of cicada ingestion are not emergencies, it is essential to recognize when veterinary attention is necessary. If your pet is vomiting multiple times, not eating, showing signs of pain, or exhibiting unusual lethargy, it’s time to consult your veterinarian.

Dr. Whittle of Mill Creek Animal Clinic told CBS News that erring on the side of caution and seeking professional advice can ensure your pet’s well-being.

For severe reactions, such as persistent vomiting or bloody diarrhea, pets might need hospitalization for intravenous fluids and medications, Fox Weather reports. Immediate veterinary attention can prevent complications from developing.

While cicadas are not toxic, they can cause digestive issues and allergic reactions if pets consume them in large quantities. Prevention and close monitoring are key to keeping your pet safe during cicada emergence. Train your pet with commands, supervise outdoor activities, and clean your yard regularly.

If your pet shows signs of distress, consult a veterinarian promptly to ensure their health and safety.

Matthew Russell

Matthew Russell is a West Michigan native and with a background in journalism, data analysis, cartography and design thinking. He likes to learn new things and solve old problems whenever possible, and enjoys bicycling, spending time with his daughters, and coffee.

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