“Dogs eat lots of stuff — they will paw open a pantry and eat five pounds of dog food before owners catch them,” Dr. Hohenhaus said. “One dog puked up a shark toy. So if you have a dog who goes to the country for the weekend and eats horse poop, he’ll have diarrhea on Monday morning.”
As for those pets who have hoovered up cicadas and landed in the vet E.R., she said, cause and effect are not necessarily obvious. “I don’t know if the cicada shells made the dog sick or it was the Kleenexes and trash the dog ate out of the bathroom basket.”
Cicadas can, however, incite some cats and especially dogs to binge. (Think potato chips: Can you eat just one?)
“Because cicadas are so easy to catch, some animals are going to town eating them,” said Dr. Klippen, who sees perhaps a handful of dogs a week for this reason. The risks are not from the bugs, she said, but from dehydration related to vomiting and diarrhea, or from having absorbed pesticide sprayed on the cicadas.
For dogs who can’t quit cicadas, “consider a basket muzzle,” Dr. Klippen said. “It’s beneficial and doesn’t prevent dogs from panting and drinking.”
Also try walking your dog at dawn and dusk, Dr. Wismer advised, when cicadas are least active. Since cicadas are found in and around mature trees, avoid routes that include them.
The heebie-jeebies over pets and cicadas springs mostly from the alignment of several factors. There’s the once-in-nearly-two-decades emergence of the bugs. And the heightened attachment and overprotectiveness that owners developed toward their pets in the past year during lockdown. Moreover, veterinarians said, people’s concerns are being revved by the internet and, er, the news media.
“But basically, it’s something for us to talk about other than the coronavirus,” Dr. Klippen said.