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Are Cicadas Dangerous to Pets? Expert Advice on Preparing Dogs and Cats for Spring's Cicada Emergence

The president of the American Veterinary Medical Association shares how pet owners should prepare for the 2024 cicada season

<p>Getty</p> A photo of a periodical cicada (left) and a stock photo of a dog outdoors (right)

Getty

A photo of a periodical cicada (left) and a stock photo of a dog outdoors (right)

Soon, billions of cicadas from two broods will emerge from the ground across large swaths of the U.S., so there is a high chance millions of pets will run into the bugs.

The 17-year periodical cicadas in Brood XIII are set to emerge throughout northern Illinois, and the 13-year periodical cicadas of Brood XIX will likely emerge across the southeastern United States and into central Illinois. It will be the first time in 221 years that both broods are above ground simultaneously.

While the size and sound of periodical cicadas may seem intimidating, the bugs only pose a "minimal risk" to dogs and cats, Dr. Rena Carlson, the president of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), tells PEOPLE.

PEOPLE spoke with the vet expert, who has spent more than 30 years as a practicing veterinarian, to learn more about the behavior pet owners can expect when their dogs and cats encounter cicadas.

Read on to learn more about the potential dangers the bugs pose to pets and how to avoid them.

Related: Billions of Cicadas Are Coming amid Rare Double Brood — See Where the Bugs Will Be This Spring

Are cicadas dangerous to pets?

Unlike insects that bite and sting, cicadas don't pose many risks for dogs and cats.

"They are not toxic to our pets, they do not sting, and they are not known to carry diseases," Dr. Carlson says, explaining why pet owners should not worry too much about their pets and the bugs crossing paths.

The AVMA president recommends keeping an eye on your pet if they're an adventurous eater.

"Cicadas or their discarded shells (exoskeletons) can be irritating to the digestive system if swallowed and might cause gastrointestinal discomfort in dogs and cats, depending on the amount eaten and the animal's size or breed. It's a good idea to monitor pets when outdoors during this time to prevent overconsumption​​," Dr. Carlson advises.

Pets who aren't enticed to eat the bugs might be "startled or scared by cicadas."

"If this is the case, an easy remedy would be to keep the pet indoors. Otherwise, owners can steer the pet away from cicadas and maintain the animal safely under their control by keeping the pet on a leash when outside," Dr. Carlson adds.

Related: Keeping Dogs and Cats Safe During an Eclipse: Expert Pet Advice on the Spring Solar Eclipse

How serious is it if a pet eats a cicada?

"While cicadas are not harmful to pets, eating too many can lead to gastrointestinal upset, such as vomiting or diarrhea," Dr. Carlson says.

"If your pet appears distressed after consuming cicadas or their discarded shells, contact your veterinarian. Treatment generally involves managing any signs of gastrointestinal upset and ensuring the pet's comfort​​," the vet adds.

<p>Getty</p> A periodical cicada

Getty

A periodical cicada

What are the symptoms of an adverse reaction to cicadas?

According to Dr. Carlson, dogs or cats that eat cicadas and feel unwell afterward will likely show signs of "excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, or apparent distress."

"If your pet exhibits these signs after consuming cicadas, it's advisable to contact your veterinarian," she adds.

Related: Why Do My Dog's Paws Smell Like Fritos? A Vet Shares the Answer and How it Affects a Pet's Health

Can the noise cicadas make affect pets?

"While the sound from male cicadas buzzing to attract mates can be loud and quite noticeable, it typically doesn't affect pets as significantly as sudden, unexpected noises like fireworks or thunderclaps," Dr. Carlson says.

She suggests providing a quiet, relaxing space for your pet indoors if you notice your cat or dog becoming irritated by the cicadas' buzz.

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What other advice do you have for pet owners regarding the 2024 cicada season?

"Enjoy the natural spectacle of the cicada emergence while ensuring your pets are safe. Keep an eye on your pets when they're outdoors, train them with useful commands to prevent cicada consumption, and provide a peaceful indoor environment to escape the noise," Dr. Carlson advises, adding that overall, the double cicada brood emergence is a "fascinating natural event with minimal risks to your furry friends."

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Read the original article on People.