News & Politics  |  Pets

Your Dog Might Eat a Lot of the Cicadas. What Happens Next?

The bugs are not toxic, but can cause stomach problems.

Image via Shutterstock.

Sure, cicadas are edible for humans (and allegedly taste like shrimp), but what about our furry, four-legged friends? Dogs aren’t exactly known for their discerning palates, and some of them might mistake the impending invasion of Brood X for an all-you-can-eat bug buffet.

First, the good news: cicadas are not toxic to dogs, so we’re unlikely to see incidents of bug-related poisoning, says Friendship Hospital urgent care veterinarian Christine Klippen. In fact, the harm a cicada can inflict on a pooch is more related to ingesting an item outside their normal diet than the bug itself. Just as dogs experience gastrointestinal inflammation and irritation when they eat other foreign objects such as sticks, munching on a cicada could yield the same gut woes.

However, some dogs will display a ravenous desire for the insects, consuming the bugs in high volumes. A dog that eats too many critters could end up with a GI obstruction—Klippen recommends reaching out to your veterinarian if a pet begins to vomit, have diarrhea, or display lethargy.

So, how can you dissuade your dog from dining al fresco all cicada-season long?

“Maybe [don’t leave] them unattended so that they can go to town and have a smorgasbord,” says Klippen. The vet suggests keeping pets on a leash outdoors so you can guide curious canines away from the cicadas. Owners can also practice redirecting a dog’s attention away from insects, using a treat as positive reinforcement. And just prepare yourself now for the next rite of passage for Washington pet owners: pulling a fluttering cicada out of your beloved pup’s mouth.

Daniella Byck
Lifestyle Editor

Daniella Byck joined Washingtonian in 2022. She was previously with Outside Magazine and lives in Northeast DC.