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ASK THE VETS: Cicadas? Don't fret; dogs eat far worse
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ASK THE VETS: Cicadas? Don't fret; dogs eat far worse

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A cicada is seen after shedding its nymph shell on the trunk of a tree May 24 in Lutherville-Timonium, Md.

Last week, I was getting multiple questions on the cicada invasion. Crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside, these critters are considered exotic delicacies by our pets. But are they harmful?

The “official doctor answer” is that the rough exoskeleton of the adult cicada can cause some mild gastrointestinal irritation if too many are eaten too quickly. Also, ingestion of any unusual meal may lead to some loose stool or belly upset in sensitive pets.

That being said, these bugs have all the tag lines of today’s boutique-brand dog treats: all-natural, free range, grain-free, novel protein, etc. If they sold a bag at a pet store, you’d probably pay about 10 dollars per pound. Maybe we should all save our money and just gather up some cicadas!

In my opinion, a dog eating a bug is less disturbing than chewing on a cow hoof, pig ears or “Bully Stick” (if you don’t know about that one, it’s probably best you don’t ask).

In fact, why not join your pets in enjoying a uniquely textured seasonal dish? A quick Google search will reveal scores of tasty recipes for cicada snacks, meals and even cocktails. Hopefully, they aren’t as delectable as our pets make them seem. After all, they only come around every 17 years.

Disclaimer: People or pets with shellfish allergies should avoid eating cicadas. Seriously.

There has been a baby bird fluttering outside near our bushes. It seems like she has fallen out of the nest. What should I do to care for her?

In late spring and early summer, many wild birds experience a fledgling stage of development. These birds are old enough to leave the nest, but still need the attention of a parent. Typically, these fledglings jump around and practice flying, but usually cannot completely master the skill yet. Think of these fledglings as “bird teenagers.”

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The mother will usually be keeping a pretty close watch over fledglings. They help them find food and avoid predators. Sometimes, you may see a panicked mother bird trying to distract you if you walk to close to her offspring. It is important to leave the fledgling alone, so the mother continues to care for it.

Keep your cats and dogs indoors or closely supervised if you have a fledgling in your yard. Many of these birds die from interactions with pets or because well meaning “rescuers” take them away from their mothers.

In Virginia, all wildlife legally belongs to the commonwealth. Individuals are not allowed to care for wildlife other than to bring them to a veterinarian or licensed wildlife rehabilitator. These laws are for the protection of the animals and public health.

If you suspect any wild animal is sick or injured, leave them in place and contact a veterinarian or animal control for advice.

Our Maltese woke up this morning slobbering and very anxious. She is shaking, has a dry nose and may be feverish. She has not been exposed to any toxins or rabid animals. My husband is sick with a severe throat. Could she have caught this from him?

It is unusual for pets and people to share most germs. Almost all viruses are specific to a particular species. There are some types of bacteria that can pass from people to pets, so it is not impossible that your husband and your dog’s illnesses are related.

The sudden onset of your dog’s symptoms make me think there may be something else involved. For example, anxiety and salivation are common symptoms of a tooth infection. Sometimes, stomach irritation from unusual food, like rawhide treats or table scraps, can lead to anxiety and salivation. If her appetite is reduced, it would present further evidence of upper GI or mouth problems.

To determine if she really has a fever, use a digital rectal thermometer. Normal dog temperature is 100.5-102.5.

Do not attempt to treat your dog with the medications you may be using for your husband. Tylenol and Advil are toxic to dogs. Antibiotics should only be prescribed by a doctor. It sounds like a trip to your family veterinarian is warranted.

Dr. Michael J. Watts, a veterinarian, operates Clevengers Corner Veterinary Care in Amissville.

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