Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?

Written by AZ Animals Staff
Updated: October 5, 2021
Image Credit Orientgold/Shutterstock.com
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Cicada Brood X is Coming

It sounds ominous when you read headlines that say, “the Brood X swarm of cicadas is coming.” If you’ve ever seen a cicada before, it might seem even more ominous because of their red eyes and veiny, translucent wings.

However, while they might be a noisy nuisance, this emergence is actually an event that many people look forward to. Because these cicadas, called “periodic cicadas,” only emerge every 17 years, researchers and bug enthusiasts eagerly await this time of year. The other type, annual cicadas, emerge every year in certain parts of the world.

Because of their semi-rarity, each brood of these periodic cicadas gets a Roman numeral, so this is technically called “Cicada Brood 10” rather than using the letter X as it appears. Brood X is one of the most widespread swarms, so it is highly likely that you will encounter at least a few of these bugs whenever they decide to make their appearance in the coming weeks.

A Tasty Treat? Why Your Dog Might Sniff Out Cicadas

Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?
Dogs are normally very inquisitive and will try to eat any small interesting little insect, like this cicada!

Lee waranyu/Shutterstock.com

We all know that our furry friends are curious about the world around them. Anyone who has ever walked with dogs knows just how long they will spend tracking down every single smell and sound they encounter, especially if it’s new to them.

Of course, this means that they are primed and ready to hunt down cicadas. If you live in a region where cicadas regularly appear, then you may already know how your dog will react to the emergence of this upcoming swarm. However, if this is your first time encountering a brood of cicadas with your dog, then you might be feeling anxious or apprehensive about what will happen when you inevitably see them out on your daily walks.

Fast Facts: Can Your Dog Chow Down on Cicadas?

Ultimately, the question that every dog owner is asking is, “Are cicadas dangerous to my dog?” The short answer is no, but the long answer is important and a bit more nuanced.

The Good News

First, cicadas don’t bite or sting. They look strange and dangerous, but generally speaking, they just want to be left alone. Their life cycles are pretty short, so they’re much more focused on mating and reproducing than anything else.

During this time, it’s very likely that your dog will try to eat at least one live cicada. If this happens, don’t fret. While they’re not the easiest food for dogs to digest, they are not poisonous or inherently dangerous for your furry friend’s digestive system.

The Not-so-good News

The trouble comes when dogs are allowed to munch on live cicadas or the exoskeletons that they shed unchecked. A cicada’s exoskeleton is tough and fibrous, and its wings are stiff and crunchy as well. Both of these things can pose a choking hazard, much like allowing a dog to chew on a bone when it’s too small and splintery.

In addition to the choking hazard they present, it’s also possible for your dog to experience an upset tummy if he chomps on too many cicadas. All of that extra fiber is incredibly hard to digest, and vets say this can lead to “mild to severe GI upset.” In the most severe cases, your canine companion might need a vet visit for fluids and medication.

Finally, because cicadas are considered a nuisance by most people due to the noise and sheer numbers that emerge, it’s common for homeowners to liberally spray pesticides whenever a swarm emergence is imminent. Again, if your dog tries to eat just one or two cicadas, this likely won’t affect him. However, gorging on these insects could possibly lead to the ingestion of an unhealthy amount of pesticides.

Can I Keep My Dog From Eating Cicadas?

Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?
To keep your dog safe and under control, always walk with an appropriate leash.

Dog owners know that even the best-behaved pups have those moments where they conveniently forget their names and all of the commands they have learned. Experts say that the best and most effective way to keep your furry friend from eating too many cicadas is to make sure that he has a good grasp of the “drop” or “leave it” command.

Another way to keep your dog safe is to make sure that he is on a leash and supervised whenever he is outside. This will allow you to guide him away from the bugs and back to something else. Some vets also recommend keeping treats handy on outdoor walks so that you can redirect your dog’s attention and then reward him for obeying.

What Should I Do When My Dog Eats a Cicada?

It’s inevitable that your dog will try to eat at least one cicada this year, so it’s natural to want to have a plan of action ahead of time.

  • First, remember not to panic. Cicadas are not inherently dangerous to pets or people. In fact, many animals and humans eat cicadas as a delicacy. The biggest potential danger that comes from your pup eating a cicada is the fact that it’s not a normal part of his diet.
  • If your dog manages to crunch down on either a live cicada or an abandoned exoskeleton, the best thing you can do is monitor him to make sure that he doesn’t choke or begin acting strange. Encourage him to stop walking and chew the bug well. This will help minimize any risk of choking.
  • Experts recommend contacting your vet if you notice that your dog is displaying any signs of lethargy, changes in appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea. This could be a sign of an allergic reaction or possible GI obstruction.
  • It could also be helpful to bring a portable water dish with you on walks so that you can offer your dog some water to help the bug get safely moved through the digestive tract.

Ultimately, it’s okay for your furry friend to snatch up a few cicadas as a forbidden treat. They are not toxic to humans or animals, so as long as you supervise your pet and minimize the number of cicadas he gorges on, you’ll both make it through cicada season just fine.

Cicada Brood X News & Information

Brood X is currently (spring 2021) emerging on the east coast of the United States. More information and coverage can be found here!

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