How will the cicada invasion affect your pets?

Editor’s Note: Don’t forget to submit your cicada photos to the WTOP photo gallery. Follow this link.

Katy Nelson, special to

WASHINGTON – The entire East Coast is “abuzz” about the impending entomological invasion that is promised to occur any day now. And with the weather finally warming this week, the ground temperature is sure to bring out the cicadas.

We know what this means for us: weeks of scrubbing the windshield, covering our ears when walking outside and picking red-eyed creatures out of our hair and off of our clothes. But what does the cicada invasion mean for our pets?

Let’s face it, these low-flying noisemakers seem like odd toys to dogs, cats, birds and other critters. But what happens if our pets decide to give them a little taste?

The good news is, even though they are disgusting, they’re not toxic.

That being said, we shouldn’t allow our pets to indulge. The exoskeletons of these invaders contain chitin — which is what is found in lobster shells. This extremely tough material is problematic when eaten in large quantities and may even cause allergic reactions in some pets.

If enough are eaten, the indigestible skins of these bugs can cause anything from mild indigestion, all the way to intestinal blockages. That means, during this 2-3 week invasion, you will definitely need to supervise your pets.

Signs of overindulgence include lack of appetite, diarrhea, vomiting, fever, panting and weakness or lethargy. If any of these signs are seen, call your veterinarian immediately. You should also call the vet if your pet experiences an allergic reaction.

If your pet suffers from noise anxiety, this period of encroachment may prove problematic for you, as well. My advice is to approach this as you would a thunderstorm or another stressful event.

Keep your pet in an enclosed area of your house, away from windows and doors. You can also use white noise to dull the din created by the cicadas, and use any holistic therapies you typically use with your pet.

While this period is almost guaranteed to be stressful (and icky!) for all of us, it doesn’t have to be dangerous. An ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure in this situation. Monitor your pets carefully, and you can avoid a trip to see someone like me.

Have a question for Dr. Pawz? Email her at @WTOP and @WTOPliving on Twitter.

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