Pet owners across 14 states will experience a few minutes of total darkness during the Great American Solar Eclipse on August 21. So, how will your pets react to the exciting celestial event?
Truthfully, you probably won’t see much reaction from household pets as a result of the solar eclipse. This is largely due to the fact that the animals we share our hearts and homes with have adapted to life on a human schedule dictated more by alarm clocks and artificial light than natural daylight and darkness – and most of them aren’t seeing all the hype on social media.
On the contrary, you ARE likely to see some bizarre behavior from wild animals, birds, and insects on August 21 – but only for a few minutes.
For our furred and four-legged friends, however, there ARE some precautions and safety measures to keep in mind.
Should I outfit my pet with eclipse viewing glasses?
Those of us lucky enough to live in the eclipse’s “path of totality” will experience total darkness for a few minutes as the moon passes in front of the sun, blocking the sunlight. Depending on where you are in the country, this could happen anywhere between 10:16am on the Oregon coast and 2:49pm on the South Carolina coast. (Don’t worry! If you’re not in the path of total darkness that day, you’ll still experience some degree of darkness as the sun is partially blocked by the moon’s path!).
Pets don’t normally attempt to look at the sun and it’s highly unlikely they’ll try to do it during the eclipse, even when it suddenly goes dark. (When you flip off the kitchen light, does your dog or cat run over and look up at the bulb, wondering why it’s suddenly gone dark?).
Still, although they won’t actively attempt to look directly toward the sun, you’ll want to take precautions to prevent them from accidentally injuring their eyes. In other words, avoid playing a game of fetch or Frisbee for a few minutes. Even better, just leave your pets indoors during the eclipse.
As for those special eclipse viewing glasses, they’ll be more annoying than anything else and may even frighten your pet as they block all normal vision. But, if you insist on keeping your pets outdoors during the eclipse and can fit the glasses properly, they won’t hurt.
What’s the biggest danger to my pets during the eclipse?
Unlike humans, your pets aren’t likely to risk their eyesight trying to stare into the sun. The biggest danger to pets on August 21 will come from, you guessed it, humans.
All across the nation, for the 1 hour and 33 minutes that it takes for the moon’s shadow to cross the country, there will be crowds, excitement, noise, celebrations, concerts, fireworks… you get the idea.
Take the same precautions you take during the Fourth of July or New Year’s Day celebrations to keep your pets safe and comfortable through the chaos around them. Remember, they don’t understand why everyone is so excited all of a sudden!
Make sure pets are safely secured (preferably indoors!), wearing a collar and ID tags. If you’ll be in the shadow’s direct path, provide a safe, comfortable space for your dog, white noise or music to block celebrations and fireworks outside, and any other anxiety-reducing precautions you take during holidays or thunderstorms.
And, be prepared – the excitement of the rare event will continue long after the sun has returned to shining brightly in the sky!
For more information about the Great American Eclipse and where/how to view it safely, check out Space.com’s guide to viewing the eclipse safely!