Can dogs eat cicadas? Yes, ingesting a few cicadas will not harm your dog. Thus, if you caught your dog munching on a cicada, it is not a cause for immediate concern. However, it is dangerous for dogs to eat cicadas in large quantities since they can severely damage their digestive system.
As you read on, you will find out more reasons why it is better to keep dogs away from cicadas.
The Cicada Resurgence
In 2021, trillions of periodical cicadas emerged in the U.S. after hibernating for 17 years. They are expected to be seen in several states, including Delaware, Michigan, Ohio, and Washington DC.
According to experts, the densities of cicadas can be as vast as 1.5 million per acre. Many of these periodical cicadas belong to the group Brood X. It is the largest out of all the cicada broods which are appearing en masse.
Scientists theorize that the massive resurgence of cicadas is a survival strategy. They believe that by appearing in great numbers, Brood X cicadas have lower chances of being completely wiped out by predators.
Thus, many of them will be able to mate and lay eggs to continue the next generation of Brood X.
Cicadas as Dog Munchies
For certain, many pet owners have caught their dogs busily chewing on cicadas. It may have been a puzzling sight to see their 4-legged friends eating these crunchy critters.
Why do dogs eat cicadas?
There are many possible reasons why dogs eat cicadas. Dogs may have eaten cicadas out of curiosity. Pooches are naturally curious creatures, and they often use their mouth to explore their surroundings.
Another speculation going around is that dogs find cicadas an interesting snack. Having regular dog food every day can make meals dull. Thus, some pooches prefer to eat cicadas and enjoy the new taste and texture these insects provide.
Harmless and Docile Insects
For some pet owners, the appearance of cicadas may seem frightening. Understandably, they worry about these insects harming their canine companions.
Will cicadas hurt dogs?
If you are worried about cicadas attacking your dog, the answer is no. It is not in their nature to seek out and hurt humans and animals.
Moreover, cicadas have a long strawlike tube as a mouth, which they use to suck sap from trees. They cannot bite or sting your dogs.
The Risks of Eating Cicadas
Cicadas attacking your pooch is the least of your worries. The biggest concern to think about is: “What happens if a dog eats cicada?”
Most likely, your dog will be fine after eating a few cicadas. It will not cause anything drastic. However, serious problems may arise if he ingests many of these insects carelessly.
Here are the top 3 health concerns about dogs feasting on cicadas:
1. Gastric Problems
The American Kennel Club (AKC) chief veterinary officer, Dr. Jerry Klein, warns pet owners how cicadas can damage the stomach of canines.
He says, “Dogs that gorge on the large, crunchy insects will find the exoskeleton difficult to digest and can suffer serious consequences.”
Cicadas have sharp body parts, which can cause GI perforations in dogs. Other aftereffects of consuming these bugs in large amounts are:
- Upset stomach
- Bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal pains
There were instances wherein some dogs needed IV fluids, anti-nausea drugs, and pain medications after eating cicadas. Back in 2004, a pooch got sick and almost lost his life because he devoured around 300 of these insects.
2. Allergic Reactions
There is a possibility that cicadas can trigger allergies in some dogs. However, this is considered a rare occurrence.
If your dog eats a cicada, watch out for symptoms of allergic reactions. These can come in the form of hives, itching, and facial swelling.
In severe cases, your dog may suffer from fever, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and breathing difficulties. Get him checked by the vet ASAP if he exhibits these symptoms.
3. Risk of Toxicity
Are cicadas toxic to dogs and cats? No, cicadas are not toxic to dogs and cats. But be warned that some people spray insecticides and pesticides on these insects to get rid of them.
Therefore, although cicadas are naturally nonvenomous insects, being exposed to dangerous chemicals can make them poisonous to dogs and cats.
Eating Too Many Cicadas Brings Danger
We have finished talking about how the seemingly harmless cicadas can be dangerous to your pet. Let us answer the question: “Are cicadas bad for dogs?” No, cicadas are not entirely bad for dogs so long as they do not overindulge on these insects.
So how many cicadas can a dog eat? Eating 1–2 cicadas is okay for dogs. Exceeding this amount will potentially cause severe problems in their digestive system, such as a fatal intestinal blockage.
The Final Verdict
Let us go back to the very first question in the article: “Can dogs eat cicadas?” The answer is yes; dogs can eat cicadas. However, it does not mean that you should encourage this dog behavior. It is best to keep your dog away from these insects as much as possible.
7 Tips on How to Prevent Your Dog from Eating Cicadas
The lifespan of periodical cicadas is short when they are above the ground. They only have around 4–6 weeks to live. Here are some precautions that you can take while these insects are still at the peak of their mating season:
- Limit your dog’s time outdoors during cicada season. It would be suitable to incorporate more indoor games around this time. Also, make sure that all of his minimal activities outside are closely supervised.
- Do not walk your dog in areas where cicadas congregate. They tend to thrive in woodlands, shrubs, and grassy acres of land. It is recommended that you temporarily opt for a route with fewer trees and greenery.
- Take your dog outside during the part of the day when cicadas are least active. This is usually around nighttime and early morning when the temperature is cooler.
- Put your dog on a short lead. This allows you to keep a close eye on him wherever he goes. It also gives you more control in steering him away should a cicada catch his eye.
- Bring your dog’s favorite toy or treat with you during walks. These items are useful in redirecting his attention when he starts to go after a cicada.
- Inspect your back garden regularly. Make sure to remove cicada shells and dead cicadas from the area to prevent your pooch from eating them.
- Watch out for deadly predators. The presence of cicadas can attract dangerous animals such as rats, which are carriers of leptospirosis and rabies. Make sure that your dog is regularly vaccinated against these diseases.