Is the Eclipse Safe for Pets? What to Do With Pets During Eclipse · The Wildest

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Is the Eclipse Safe for Cats and Dogs? How to Protect Your Pets on April 8

Everything you need to know about how the eclipse will affect your pets.

by Sio Hornbuckle
April 5, 2024
Woman looking out window with small white dog.
Marija Mandic / Stocksy

This Monday, April 8, a rare astronomical event will be visible from parts of North America: a total solar eclipse, when the moon passes between the sun and the earth, temporarily blocking out the sun. This eclipse will last much longer than the one back in 2017 — and the next total solar eclipse won’t happen for another twenty years, in August of 2044. In other words, if you happen to be in the eclipse’s path of totality (where the sun will be totally blocked out by the moon), it’s a can’t-miss occasion. 

Since you have a heads up, the eclipse will probably be an exciting and awe-inspiring moment. But if a total solar eclipse happened with no warning and no scientific context, you’d probably think the world was ending. Which begs the question: What about our pets? We can’t exactly explain the significance of the event to them…so how will they react when the middle of the day turns to nighttime in the matter of seconds? Will they even notice? And what about those precious puppy and kitty eyes — if we have to wear special glasses, do they? We talked to an expert to find out everything you need to know about how to keep your pet safe and calm during the total solar eclipse. 

How will the total solar eclipse affect pets?

When it comes to indoor pets, the eclipse might not even cross their radar. Veterinarian Dr. Wendy Hauser points out that indoor pets are acclimated to artificial light, so it’s unlikely they’ll take too much notice of the sky. “I would leave lights on in the home during the eclipse to help minimize any anxiety,” Dr. Hauser says.

That said, animals are highly influenceable — so the more chaotic we act as their guardians, the more freaked out they could feel. “It is possible that dogs and cats could react to behavioral changes in their humans, mainly through the non-verbal actions the owners could display such as quicker motions, louder voices, and increased animation,” Dr. Hauser says. “It is best to stay calm while in the house with your pets, and save the excitement for when you go outdoors, preferably without your pet.”

If you do decide to take your pet with you on an outdoor excursion, try to keep calm around them. Always keep them on a leash if you’re in a non-fenced area, and be sure they’re microchipped, just in case they make a mad dash in the excitement.

What about outdoor pets? 

Dr. Hauser says that outdoor cats and dogs may be a bit more unsettled by the eclipse — and not only because of what’s happening in the sky. The sudden lack of light might confuse them, but they could also be bewildered by “the behavioral changes in wildlife that are part of our pet’s normal environment,” she says. “For example, birds and insects might stop making sounds and have decreased activity during the eclipse. Additionally, it is possible that wildlife that are more active at night might prematurely emerge from their homes.”

If you have an animal who will likely be outdoors during the time of the eclipse, Dr. Hauser recommends bringing them inside and keeping them in a safe and familiar area. This is the best way to prevent any stress. 

Do pets need to protect their eyes from the eclipse?

When it comes to eye protection, there’s probably nothing to worry about; it’s super unlikely that your dog or cat will look up at the sky. “Most dogs and cats are evolutionarily hardwired to avoid looking at the sun,” Dr. Hauser says. 

That said, Dr. Hauser has one caveat. “Because dogs do take their cues from their owners, it is possible that they may look up to see what their humans are focusing on,” she says. To be totally safe, she once again recommends keeping pets inside — and consider keeping the lights on and covering the windows. 

Oh, and definitely don’t try to get your pet to look at the sun. The eclipse is exciting for us, but giving your pet a bunch of confusing directions, controlling their head, and risking their eye health isn’t gonna help them enjoy it. If you really want to make the day special for the whole family, pick up a new toy or treat on your way home from skygazing — and let your pet do what your pet does best: nap through the whole thing. 

Sio Hornbuckle

Sio Hornbuckle is a writer living in New York City with their cat, Toni Collette.

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