Can Dogs Eat Cicadas?

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dog and a cicada

It’s been 17 years, but it’s that time again: cicada season!

This year’s anticipated swarm is known as Brood X and has started to emerge across the country. Even if you have mixed feelings about these loud bugs basically everywhere, your dog might be psyched to add a new treat to his diet.

Believe it or not, some vets are warning that pups might try to eat one (or all of them) out of curiosity. And you might be wondering: Can my dog eat cicadas without getting sick?

According to BluePearl Specialty and Emergency Pet Hospital, your dog can safely have a few, but too many can be dangerous.

Here’s what else you should know before your dog eats a cicada.

Are cicadas dangerous for dogs?

Cicadas aren’t considered to be dangerous for dogs to eat in small amounts — though you obviously shouldn’t encourage the behavior.

They’re not poisonous and they don’t sting — but they have a tough exoskeleton that might be difficult for a dog to digest.

If your dog eats too many cicadas, he might experience stomach issues, like food bloat.

Cicadas’ small size also makes them a choking hazard for dogs, so you’ll definitely want to keep an eye on him if he’s around any. (And try not to take the cicada from his mouth, which might cause him to swallow it, leading to possible choking!)

Cicadas might also have pesticide residue on them that can be dangerous for dogs in large amounts, which is yet another reason to make sure your dog doesn’t eat too many.

Cicada allergies in dogs

It’s also possible that your dog could have an allergic reaction to a cicada, though this is rare.

Cicadas are actually really similar to crustaceans biologically, so dogs with shellfish allergies can also have an allergic reaction to cicadas.

If your dog eats a cicada and shows signs of an allergy, take him to the vet ASAP.

Some common signs of allergy in dogs include:

  • Sneezing
  • Scratching and biting
  • Swollen head or face
  • Runny nose and eyes
  • Hives
  • Diarrhea

How many cicadas are too many cicadas?

How many cicadas it would take to make your dog sick depends on his size.

You should try to keep your dog from eating any cicadas, but if your large dog sneakily happens to eat a few, he’ll probably be OK.

That being said, you shouldn’t encourage him to eat the insects, and you should prevent this from happening when possible.

If your dog eats a ton of cicadas, or just a few, and has a bad reaction, you should take him to the vet immediately.

Supervise your dog outdoors

Whenever you’re outside with your dog during cicada season, you’ll want to keep a close eye on him to make sure he stays away from cicadas.

And be sure to steer clear of shrubs, trees and fences, which is usually where the cicadas like to hang out.

If you catch your pup munching on a cicada, be careful not to try to take it from him, which could possibly cause him to swallow the bug quickly and choke on it. Let him finish his so-called “snack” and then take him inside.

Every dog will react differently to seeing a cicada, but if your dog just loves to gobble them up, some training might help.

Training your dog not to eat cicadas

Cicadas are literally everywhere, so the best way to keep your dog from overindulging is by teaching your dog to “drop it.”

Here are steps to follow to train “drop it”:

  1. Let your dog play with a toy he kind of likes. When it’s in his mouth, offer him a treat he really likes and say, “Drop it.” If he drops the toy, praise him with cuddles.
  2. Keep repeating until he drops the toy when he hears the cue without the treat present.
  3. If he doesn’t drop the toy without the treat present, increase the time between the cue and the treat slowly until he gets the hang of it.

It will take some repetition and patience, but it’ll totally be worth it. And sooner or later, you’ll be able to take your dog outside without totally stressing out about it.