If your pet eats too many cicadas, when should you see the vet?

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. (CBS) -- With 17-year periodical cicadas on seemingly every outdoor surface in parts of the Chicago area, some veterinarians — even emergency vets — are getting calls to treat pets that eat too many of the insects.

Veterinarians emphasize it's rare for a cicada-eating issue to turn into an emergency for pets. But with vets seeing such issues across the Chicago area nonetheless, experts have some advice.

Some dogs are gleefully gobbling up cicadas and their exoskeletons, explained Dr. Jennie Culen of Thrive Pet Healthcare in Hoffman Estates.

"The dogs, they basically think they're like potato chips — they're crunchy," Culen said. "They eat them."

But only the worst cases of trouble after dogs eat too cicadas end up needing treatment from vets like Culen.

"From an emergency standpoint, the worst cases that we've seen is like a small dog trying to swallow it and maybe choking on it," Culen said.

Thrive Pet Healthcare, a 24/7 ER and specialty medicine center, prepared for the worst. Thankfully, the worst has not panned out.

"We haven't had any cases where ingestion of cicadas has led to anything life-threatening," said Culen.

Culen emphasized that cicadas are not dangerous.

"There's a lot of things that are very scary to people, because they don't know," Culen said.

Cicadas are not toxic, and they do not sting or bite. But if your pet eats one, or eats a bunch and is acting off, how do you know when it's time to call the vet?

Dustin Kammerer made the call recently to Dr. Jay Whittle in Palos Park. Both joined CBS 2 virtually Friday to talk about it.

"He was pretty lethargic, and wasn't able to walk inside," Kammerer said of his dog, Kona.

Thankfully, Kammerer's sweet Kona was treated, and was doing OK late Friday. Kona just ate a few too many cicadas.

"He should be fine," said Dr. Whittle, of Mill Creek Animal Clinic. "He seems like he's perked up a lot."

Dr. Culen says she'd always prefer pet parents err on the side of caution, and make the call if they're worried. But here are the signs to look for as cicada season peaks.

"One episode of vomiting, I wouldn't worry — especially as long as they're still eating," Culen said. "If they're vomiting multiple times, if they're not eating, if they seem really painful — those would all be signs to me to go see either your primary care vet if they're open. If not, there are a bunch of urgent cares."

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