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Incoming cicada swarm not a problem for pets

Live cicadas shouldn't cause much of a worry for pets, but the skin they leave behind might.

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Before a noisy brood of cicadas surfaces soon, veterinarians want pet owners to know what to look out for. 

"If you have a heavily wooded backyard, you're going to be the yard where those things are going to gather," said Dr. Jim Dechand, a veterinarian with the Pet Wellness Clinics in Westfield. "If you have nothing in your backyard but grass, you're likely not going to see them at all."

Dechand said this once-in-every-17-years occurrence shouldn't be a big worry for pet owners.

"I have been a veterinarian for almost 30 years," said Dechand. "I do not ever remember a large cicada brood causing a big problem with pets."

But it can cause minor issues — not live cicadas themselves, but the skin they leave behind.

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"Insect shells are made out of chitin — not easy to digest," Dechand said. "One or two's probably fine, 50 is probably not. The most likely problem there is just digestive upset, vomiting, diarrhea."

And it's dogs that typically get into more trouble than cats. 

"I suppose if you had a glutton of a cat and that cat went ahead and ate a bunch of them, you might have a problem, but cats tend to be a little more picky, they tend to play with things. Probably not as likely to eat those things," Dechand said. "Whereas you get the average Labrador and he eats every one he can find."

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