INDIANAPOLIS – Cicadas can be a crisp and tasty snack for humans and animals – but too much of anything is a bad thing, and some dogs have gotten sick while feasting on insects.
The reason for your canine friend’s stomach ache is pretty much what you might expect: he just ate too much.
“The thing about cicadas is that they’re not poisonous… they don’t bite or sting. So by themselves, they’re not dangerous,” said Dr Jerry Klein, chief veterinarian. of the American Kennel Club. “But like anything else, that’s if they do it in excess.”
Periodic cicadas emerged by the trillions across the United States last month after spending 17 years underground. The members of Brood X, the name of this cycle of emergence of cicadas, are loud, and they are everywhere.
The fauna feast on these cicadas when they emerge. They are, after all, an easy source of protein for squirrels, rabbits, and other animals. Dogs and cats also tend to nibble on clumsy insects.
This is not a concern per se, experts say. Eating a cicada or two won’t hurt your dog. But their exoskeletons and shells are hard to digest, and eating too much of them can wreak havoc on a dog’s digestive system.
“Their exoskeletons contain material that can be very difficult to digest,” said Elizabeth Barnes, an exotic forest pest educator at Purdue University. “And so if people’s dogs eat a lot of cicadas, it could make them sick or vomit.”
When a dog eats too many cicada shells, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or a lack of appetite. In this case, you should take your pet to the vet, experts say, and may require intravenous fluids, pain medication, gastro-protectants, or anti-nausea medication. While most veterinary offices in Indianapolis have not seen pets get sick from cicadas, some offices have confirmed with the Indianapolis Star, which is part of the USA TODAY Network, that they have seen them. some came because they had eaten too many bugs.
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Some dogs may be more sensitive to others, and in rare cases, your dog may be allergic to cicada shells and require even more attention.
In even rarer cases, dogs have died from eating too many cicada shells.
But overall, the problems caused by excessive consumption of cicadas are unusual, Klein said. In his 35 years of working as an emergency vet, he hasn’t seen many cases.
In fact, dogs face far more pressing dangers during the summer, such as heatstroke or fights in dog parks.
“We have to put things in perspective,” Klein said. “There really wasn’t much.
That said, if you are worried about your pet eating cicadas, Klein suggests keeping a close eye on them while they are outside. And although the emergence should only last about six weeks, the shells will stay on the ground longer. So if you have shell scraps in your yard, you might want to rake or scoop them up so your dog doesn’t eat them.
Barnes also points out that cicadas can be coated with insecticides that people use to protect their trees and plants. When dogs eat cicada shells or dead cicadas on the ground, they can also ingest this insecticide.
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If your dog is acting strangely, call your vet.
“Don’t panic if your dog eats cicadas. But at the same time, it’s not something that I would necessarily encourage my pet to eat, ”Barnes said. “If people are worried or are vomiting a lot… we suggest they contact their vet just to make sure everything is okay.
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IndyStar’s environmental reporting project is made possible by the generous support of the non-profit Nina Mason Pulliam Charitable Trust.