What do you need to know about the effects of solar eclipses on your pets?

Understanding your pets reactions to the April 8 solar eclipse.  — Representational image from Unsplash
Understanding your pet’s reactions to the April 8 solar eclipse. — Representational image from Unsplash

During a solar eclipse, the moon passes between the Earth and the sun, causing a sudden drop in light and temperature.

This can be confusing for animals, including our pets, as it disrupts their circadian rhythm – the internal biological clock that tells them when it’s time to eat, sleep, or be active.

During the eclipse, which will last between 3.5 and 4 minutes, some pets may think it is nighttime and head to bed.

Dogs, being highly sensitive to changes in their environment, might exhibit signs of anxiety such as pacing, scratching, and howling. This is similar to how they might react to other unsettling events like thunderstorms or fireworks.

If you notice your dog showing these signs, it is important to remain calm and provide a comforting presence, as dogs often mirror their owners’ emotions. You may try playing with them or offering a favorite toy to distract them.

Cats, on the other hand, are more likely to interpret sudden darkness as a signal that it is time to sleep. Indoor cats and some dogs might start showing the behaviors they usually exhibit before bedtime, such as yawning, stretching, or seeking out their favorite sleeping spot.

“The most likely response is animals starting their evening routines and showing evening behavior,” Erica Cartmill, a professor of anthropology, animal behavior, and cognitive science at Indiana University tells PEOPLE.

“If you have a dog or a cat, they might go to bed, get quieter, or start yawning and stretching.”

Dr. Bryan Pijanowski, a professor of forestry and natural resources at Purdue University, explains that most animals respond to the dimming light by preparing to rest or sleep. However, nocturnal animals might take it as a cue to wake up and start their nightly activities.

“Most animals respond to (the light dimming from the eclipse) in a way where it’s like, ‘OK, it’s time to either sit down and rest and go to sleep,” Dr Pijanowski said. “And then there are the nocturnal animals that suddenly say, ‘Oh, it’s time for me to wake up and be active.”

NASA’s Eclipse Soundscapes project aims to study animal behavior during solar eclipses. During the April 8 total solar eclipse, participants will record data and submit their observations of animals in the wild.

Past studies have reported unusual behavior in various animals during eclipses. For example, whales and dolphins have been observed swimming to the water’s surface, giraffes breaking into a run, and Galápagos tortoises beginning to mate. “They’ve done a lot of studies back in 2017 when we had an eclipse at some of the zoos in America, and some of the animals were affected by it,” Steven Greene, the director of Lubbock Animal Services told KCBD News.

To ensure your pets’ comfort during the solar eclipse, experts recommend keeping them indoors and maintaining a calm environment. Closing the blinds can help minimize the change in light, and providing a safe space where they can retreat if they feel anxious can also be beneficial.

By hadem