The emergence of the Brood X cicada, which rises from the soil just once every 17 years to mate and reproduce before falling dormant, is happening across the eastern part of the United States. For animals, the buzz of activity has been like a nature-fueled popcorn popper. Everything from birds to squirrels to ants are feasting on the crunchy bug, which has become something of an instinctual delicacy. Dogs might even start digging into the soil to nab one. But can over-indulging on cicadas be a problem for your domesticated pal?
Speaking with the American Kennel Club (AKC), Dr. Jerry Klein, the club’s chief veterinary officer, said that a few cicadas is probably not cause for alarm but should be avoided if possible. Devouring them with the fervor of someone killing a bag of potato chips, however, could prove problematic.
“In most cases, your dog will be fine after eating a few cicadas,” Klein said. “However, dogs that gorge on the large, crunchy insects will find the exoskeleton difficult to digest and can suffer serious consequences.”
The problem lies in the exoskeleton of the cicada, a stiff structure that can begin to irritate the stomach when consumed. (Wings can be a problem, as well.) Dogs can suffer choking or gastrointestinal issues, including vomiting or diarrhea. In severe cases, they may require the attention of a veterinarian.
Dogs also run the risk of ingesting pesticides that may accompany some cicada populations.
While you shouldn’t be too concerned if your dog gobbles a single cicada during a walk or a run out in the yard, you should try to prevent them from a bug buffet. Teaching them to leave the cicadas alone with a verbal command may work; you can also go for walks at dawn and dusk, when the insects are less active. Avoiding mature trees where they congregate may also help until the cicadas disappear—likely in late June.