Why you shouldn’t let your dog eat too many cicadas

Trillions of the red-eyed black cicadas of Brood X are emerging after 17 years underground. (Pat Auckerman/The Journal via AP, File)

Many dogs love the taste of cicadas, so dog owners may be tempted to let their animals feast on all the Brood X cicadas that have been emerging from the ground lately.

While the bugs are not toxic, one local veterinarian said people should still try to stop their pets from eating them.

“I would recommend trying to prevent them from doing it or at least try to limit the amount that they’re eating,” said Christine Klippen, an emergency vet at Friendship Hospital for Animals in the District.

Klippen said dog owners may want to consider giving their pets less freedom and monitoring them more closely until the cicadas go away.

Eating cicadas especially in large amounts can lead to a dog having an upset stomach, causing diarrhea or vomiting. If that happens more than a couple times, Klippen said the best thing to do would be to contact a vet.


FAQ: Everything you need to know about cicadas in the D.C. area


“Anything a dog eats that is not food can put them at risk for inflammation in their GI tract,” she said.

If a dog does eat a few cicadas, even their exoskeletons, it should not be a big deal.

There are a lot of myths flying around about that.

“I have heard lots of wives’ tales,” said Klippen. “One of them I heard is that if dogs eat the little empty shells that you see hanging around it’s going to lacerate intestines and dogs are going to die. That’s not true.”

Trillions of the red-eyed black cicadas of Brood X are emerging after 17 years underground. There are many broods of periodic cicadas that appear on rigid schedules in different years, but this is one of the largest and most noticeable.

They are in 15 states from Indiana to Georgia to New York.

The bugs shed their exoskeletons, attach themselves to branches, mate and lay eggs before dying off in about six weeks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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