Should you let your pets eat cicada shells?

Dog owners may want to keep count of how many cicadas their pet eats.

Posted: Jun 9, 2021 4:51 PM
Updated: Jun 9, 2021 5:28 PM

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI)—Our pets enjoy treats and for some that may include a cicada but pet experts say in this case too much of something good could be bad.

"Cicadas are not toxic themselves," said Dr. Pamela Jackson with Creekside Animal Hospital.  "The problem is they have exoskeleton like all insects do."

The exoskeleton is the shell left after the cicada has hatched.

"That can irritate the stomach lining which could cause gastritis, which means inflammation of the stomach lining, which might result in vomiting or diarrhea," said Dr. Jackson. 

Dr. Jackson said it could be the result of a pet excessively eating the exoskeleton but if you find yourself in a situation where you pet has eaten too many,

"Bland diet, maybe take away their food for 12 hours give the stomach a chance to rest and then bland diet which might be a combination rice and cottage cheese but certainly consult with your vet as well on a bland diet they might recommend," said Dr. Jackson.

Dr. Jackson said too much vomiting could lead to dehydration.

"You could get perhaps even a fecal impaction, too much of that tightened material that causes the exoskeleton to bulk up the stool you could get constipation as well," said Dr. Jackson

One or two crunchy cicada shells may not hurt but too many could be a problem.

"If you do find your animal is really interested in those maybe keeping them in, in the evening when cicadas are a little more active," said Dr. Jackson. 

She also said exoskeletons from grasshoppers, Japenese beetles and June bugs also pose similar threats.

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