What happens if your pets eat cicadas?

URBANA, Ill. (WCIA) — With more cicadas emerging across Central Illinois, you might wonder what happens if your pet gets a hold of one or multiple bugs.

Cicadas will swarm the region this summer, with both the U.S.’s 13- and 17-year broods scheduled to emerge in Illinois. But veterinarians with University of Illinois’ College of Veterinary Medicine say these insects aren’t toxic to cats, dogs, or humans.

How to tell if cicadas are ready to emerge in your yard: Illinois Extension

However, complications can still come if your furry friend eats cicadas. Their exoskeletons are an irritant to pets’ digestive tracts, which can lead to increased salivation, vomiting or diarrhea.

For these reasons, Dr. Alyssa Baratta-Martin, a veterinarian with the primary care service at the college’s Veterinary Medicine South Clinic, advises owners to limit pets’ access to these snacks.

“If a pet consumes a large number of cicadas, an obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract could occur,” Dr. Baratta-Martin said.

Veterinarians said pet owners can avoid pets eating cicadas by taking more walks in the morning or at night, checking yards before pets are let outside and closing doors and windows to prevent bugs from flying in.

How to keep cicadas out of your home

Experts believe pet owners should contact their veterinarian if they have concerns on what a pet has eaten.

“In some cases, having your pet examined sooner rather than later can make a big difference in the outcome,” Dr. Baratta-Martin said. “Certainly, if your dog or cat is having stomach upset, its worthwhile to have them seen by your veterinarian and get them feeling better faster.”

Additionally, cicadas should be safe to eat for reptiles if they have not been sprayed with pesticides, according to Dr. Stephany Lewis, Director of U of I’s Wildlife Medical Clinic. Other animals who are housed mostly inside, like iguanas, turtles, snakes, and birds, should not be affected by the cicada emergence.

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