Should I Let My Dog Eat Cicadas?

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Imagine if there were chicken nuggets falling from the sky, buzzing around and even hitting you right in the face. I think this is the world that Cow is living in right now, and if you live somewhere in the Midwestern to Eastern United States, your dog might be too.

You probably have a pretty good idea of a cicada is and what to look for, but just in case you don’t, they’re large and mainly black with yellow stripes on their body. They have orange wings and red eyes. They fly pretty slowly and low to the ground, so they’re very easy to catch.

Cicadas do not sting or bite, so they’re defenseless against even clumsy dogs like Cow.

Are Cicadas Safe To Eat?

Cicadas emerge after 17 years from their underground tunnels and shed their skin. Immediately after, they’re soft and squishy. Their wings and exoskeleton soon firm up for that crunchy, irresistible exterior.

They’re perfectly edible, making a tasty snack for all of the raccoons, squirrels, just about anything wild that lives around you. Dogs, too, enjoy eating them and generally will not be harmed by them.

Even humans eat cicadas sometimes. In many cultures, they’re a delicacy. They’re closely related to shrimp and are said to taste like them. People who are allergic to shrimp are also allergic to cicadas.

A dog’s highly acidic stomach can dissolve bone, so it can also break down the crunchy exoskeleton.

However, dogs with a sensitive stomach might throw up if they eat too many cicadas, just as they might if they eat any unfamiliar foods.

Cow’s Exciting Summer

Cow had a terrible acute pancreatitis attack last July, and she still is unable to eat foods with too much fat in them. She’s well managed with a low fat diet, (she eats Solid Gold Fit & Fabulous, also great for chunky dogs, and Honest Kitchen Whole Grain Chicken), though she had diarrhea yesterday, possibly as a result of eating too many treats. Her poop looked a lot better today, but with her existing stomach issues, I still don’t want her chowing down on cicadas.

Cicadas are low in fat and should not cause a flare up, but I still would like to limit her consumption this summer. Especially because she becomes incredibly fixated on them, so she’s been having meltdowns over bugs instead of getting her business done when we go for walks.

To make matters worse, the toads have made their appearance a few days ago. At night, the toads come out, and she screams every time she sees one.

Last night, she managed to snatch one up and kept chomping with it in her mouth. Oh, I’m gagging just thinking about it. I think I saw it peeing while it was in her mouth. Oh, god.

When she finally let it go, it actually hopped away, unscathed.

We only have Eastern American Toads where we live, they’re mildly toxic to dogs. They cause your dog’s mouth to foam and cause vomiting if eaten, but they’re not terribly dangerous.

I think Cow may be becoming immune to the toxin because her mouth didn’t even foam up then. But our local toads do not deserve her wrath.

Do Muzzles Stop Dogs From Eating Cicadas?

Today, I broke out Cow’s Baskerville muzzle.

This is the type of muzzle you want for going on walks. Cow can open her mouth, pant, drink water, and even take treats while wearing it.

It’s been somewhat helpful in getting her to stop catching cicadas, but she quickly figured out a way to manipulate it with her paw so she can eat dead and dying cicadas on the ground. It does give me a few extra seconds to pull her away, so it’s helped.

I don’t know how effective Cow’s muzzle will be for preventing her from eating toads. I’m afraid she’s going to mash them into waffles.

What I need to be doing is bringing treats along on the walk and working on our non-existent “leave it” skills. It’s a useful skill that I’ve never prioritized teaching my dogs, and that needs to change.

We barely do any training on walks, and really, there have been so many missed opportunities.

Holding Cow back with the leash has had mixed success because there are exciting critters every few feet, at times.

Though I’ve been dreading the rest of this summer – a few more weeks of cicadas, tasty fireflies making their appearance soon, and toads into September – maybe I need to think of this season as a training opportunity, rather than a struggle.

Lindsay Pevny
Lindsay Pevny lives to help pet parents make the very best choices for their pets by providing actionable, science-based training and care tips and insightful pet product reviews.

She also uses her pet copywriting business to make sure the best pet products and services get found online through catchy copy and fun, informative blog posts. She also provides product description writing services for ecommerce companies.

As a dog mom to Matilda and Cow, she spends most of her days taking long walks and practicing new tricks, and most nights trying to make the best of a very modest portion of her bed.

You’ll also find her baking bread and making homemade pizza, laughing, painting and shopping.


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