No, You Don't Need To Be Worried Your Dog (Or Cat) Is Eating Cicadas
You were hoping it would be an isolated incident.
Your cat catches a cicada on the balcony, brings it inside, chows down and promptly throws up on the hardwood floor.
But over the course of just a few days, it happens again. And again.
So you revoke his outside privileges and call the vet.
Brood X, as this resurgence of cicadas is called, has been 17 years in the making. It's inspired a renaissance in cicada cuisine — chefs advocate for the extra protein intake that comes with a cicada-crusted flank steak or chocolate-crusted cicadas.
So if humans can experiment with the newly-unearthed insects in the kitchen, could they really be that bad for pets? Or does your cat just have an uncharacteristically sensitive stomach?
The answer, according to Dr. Nita Vasudevan of Peachtree Creek Animal Hospital in Georgia, is a bit of both.
They can cause digestive issues
Cicadas themselves are not toxic — but if they're not a part of your furry friend's regular diet, then there's a chance they can cause discomfort or gastrointestinal upset, says Dr. Vasudevan.
"Also, rarely, ingestion can cause possible allergic reactions which would present as facial swelling, diffuse body hives and itching and if more severe of a reaction, fever, vomiting and diarrhea," she adds.
The American Kennel Club offered similar guidance in a recent blog post. Although a couple of cicadas probably won't do much harm, AKC Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein warned that "dogs that gorge on the large, crunchy insects will find the exoskeleton difficult to digest and can suffer serious consequences."
Look out for quantity, not quality
Brood X is coming out across 15 states, from the East Coast to the Midwest. There's even an app that helps map where they are. And if you live in an area where they're especially prominent, you want to keep down how many your pet nibbles on.
"If pets eat a large amount, the sharp parts of these cicadas can possibly cause GI perforations," says Dr. Vasudevan. "A few ingested likely will be harmless, but we always worry about the quantity ingested over a short period of time."
You can do something about it
Again, a cicada or two won't hurt in most cases. But to ensure your pet isn't adding extra crunchies between bites of their kibble, here are a few steps Dr. Vasudevan recommends pet owners take while Brood X continues:
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