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Surviving Cicada Season with Dogs

They’re here and there is no turning back. Cicadas and their shells are beginning to cover city streets and sidewalks, and if you have a dog who loves putting things in their mouth you may be wondering, are they harmful? We got in touch with veterinarian Dr. Monica Morgado to find out more about these once-every-17-years visitors.

Are Cicadas Toxic to Dogs?

Cicadas do not bite or sting, and are not toxic to dogs - so nothing to worry about, right? Maybe not. Unfortunately, a cicada’s tough exoskeleton can pose GI issues when ingested. If you have a dog who spends the majority of his or her walk trying to clean up the street, take caution as the exoskeleton that cicadas shed may look appealing to your dog. Make an effort to keep your dog’s head up while walking and carry dog treats with you to redirect your dog’s attention should they become interested in cicadas while you’re outside walking.

Breed size also comes into play here. If you have a large dog like a lab or golden retriever, four or five cicadas probably isn't going to be an issue. If you have a small dog, four or five cicadas could be problematic.

What to Do if Your Dog Ingests a Cicada

While a few cicadas shouldn’t cause harm to dogs, we asked Dr. Monica Morgado, DVM when pet owners should call a veterinarian following a cicada buffet.

”Most dogs won’t have a problem eating a small amount of the exoskeleton of a cicada. Keep in mind that if your dog has a history of a sensitive stomach, secondary problems such as vomiting or diarrhea can happen with ingesting a small amount of these insects. The exoskeleton is not digestible and can cause an obstruction if ingested in large quantities. Contact your primary veterinarian if you notice any symptoms of vomiting, diarrhea or lethargy if these are ingested,” says Dr. Morgado.

Although not toxic to pets, it is best to keep a close eye on your dog while outside—leashed or off leash—to avoid a cicada smorgasbord. Don’t worry, this biological phenomenon won’t happen again until 2038, so you and your dog can rest easy come July.


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