Is Your Dog Ready for the Solar Eclipse?
Here’s how to watch the eclipse with your pup safely.
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How do dogs react to the solar eclipse? Some believe that dogs might appear upset or frightened, and perhaps howl, run away, or seek cover — similar reactions associated with fireworks. But, most dogs don’t really even care. If you are wondering if you need to do anything special to protect your dog’s eyes, luckily most experts say there is little need to worry.
A dog’s perspective on the eclipse
Unlike humans, dogs don't rely heavily on vision to make sense of the world. Their primary senses are smell and hearing. When it comes to an eclipse, they might notice the dimming of light, but it doesn't have the same significance for them as it does for us.
“On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun, and therefore don’t damage their eyes. And on this day, they’re not going to do it, either,” Angela Speck, director of astronomy and a professor of astrophysics at the University of Missouri, said at a news conference with NASA.
Dogs also lack the cultural and scientific understanding of celestial events. They live in the present, focusing on immediate stimuli, like the scent of a tree or the sound of a squirrel. Solar eclipses hold no intrinsic meaning or threat in their world.
It is still important to keep them safe
Melanie Monteiro, teacher of online pet first-aid classes and the author of The Safe-Dog Handbook, says animals shouldn’t need the same eye protection. “There’s really no reason to be concerned about that,” she told TODAY. “Dogs and cats don’t normally look up into the sun, so you don’t need to get any special eye protection for your pets.”
But if you are taking your dog out while watching the eclipse it is important to keep them on leash. And make sure if you are looking up at the eclipse (with special eclipse glasses, of course), that your dog doesn’t take your cue to “look” at what is making you freak out if you get overly excited.
Other things you can do for your pup include:
Stick to Routine: Maintain your regular schedule for feeding, bathroom breaks, and playtime.
ID and Microchip: Make sure they have proper identification, including a collar with an updated tag and a microchip — just in case.
Comfort: If your pup appears anxious because of the eclipse, provide them a comfortable spot to hang out, and offer a few gentle pets, familiar toys, and treats as a distraction.
"Animals are actually quite a bit smarter than we are when it comes to looking directly at the sun," says Michelle Thaller, deputy director of science for communications at NASA, which is including the Life Responds project as part of its citizen science outreach in conjunction with the eclipse.
So, even if your dog isn't spooked by the celestial event, it's probably best to keep them indoors. After all, while pets might be bored, eclipses tend to make people act a little out of the ordinary.
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Claudia Kawczynska was co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Bark for 20 years. She also edited the best-selling anthology Dog Is My Co-Pilot.