Can dogs eat cicadas? How to keep your pets safe during 2024 Illinois double brood emergence

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Wednesday, May 8, 2024
Is it safe for your pet to eat cicadas?
Can dogs eat cicadas? Vets tell us how to keep your pets safe during the 2024 Chicago and Illinois double brood emergence of these noisy bugs.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- On the verge of a historic cicada double brood emergence in the Chicago area, many pet parents are wondering if it's safe for their fur babies to eat these insects.

Josie Benedetti has a French bulldog named Gus and a dachshund named Gilly. She's taking no chances with them.

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"I know that in years past we just got him, but she has definitely gone for bugs in general so we'll have to look out," she said.

Vincent Palermo isn't too worried about his dog Pachey, but is aware there could be problems.

"Like children, they get away from you for a minute and get themselves into trouble," he said.

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Experts say cicadas are not toxic to dogs or cats, and don't bite or sting. The bugs, which can be one to one-and-a-half inches long, aren't poisonous either.

Dr. Patricia Ho, veterinarian at Kindred Veterinary, said a pet eating an occasional cicada in most cases is harmless, but the insects have a tough exoskeleton that can make digestion a challenge, especially if eaten in large quantities and for smaller pets.

"So if we're seeing issues with eating too many, we can see some complications related to vomiting, upset stomach, diarrhea, indigestion and, worst case scenario, they can have intestinal blockages," Dr. Ho said.

READ MORE: Will Illinois cicadas harm your lawn?

She added that indoor-outdoor cats will sometimes eat cicadas too. She said so far her Pilsen neighborhood practice hasn't yet seen an uptick on sick animals, and advises pet parents to pay careful attention to changes in their pets' behavior.

"Again, just general recommendation is if we're not acting right, if we're having issues, tummy upset issues, for more than 48 hours, we do recommend medical attention," she said.

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Cicadas can also stress out our pets because of the noise they make. Experts say avoidance is key. To help with that, remove any of the bugs from your backyard if you can, and keep your pet leashed during walks.