Solar Eclipse Warning Issued to Pet Owners

Pet owners living in or travelling to the path of the upcoming total solar eclipse are being urged to keep their animals inside to avoid them becoming distressed.

While experts say that animals are unlikely to be harmed by looking towards the sun, they worry pets might react to the large crowds of humans, and asked for them to be kept away.

“That way they don’t get fearful when other people get very excited,” Chris Barry, a vet at Kindred Spirits Veterinary in Orrington, Maine, told local news channel WABI on Wednesday. “I am more worried about animals being outside and possibly getting anxious. More anxious being in a strange situation than not.”

On April 8, the total solar eclipse—when the sun is completely blocked by the moon—will be visible for different lengths of time along a path from northern Mexico, across the Midwest and up into New England. The path of totality—the area in which it will be seen—reaches across 13 states, as well as small areas of Tennessee and Michigan.

Cat sun
A stock image of a cat looking at dim sunlight. Experts have urged pet owners to keep their animals indoors with curtains and blinds closed during the upcoming total solar eclipse.


The Federal Highway Administration says that while around 32 million people live in the path of the total eclipse, between 1-5 million more are expected to travel to prime viewing locations to see it, raising concerns about some areas running out of food and pet supplies.

Veterinary institutions have said that pet owners have been most concerned about whether their furry friends could be harmed by looking at the sun—following warnings about humans protecting their eyes while viewing the celestial spectacle.

But they have assured that this was unlikely to be an issue for dogs and cats, who tend to avoid looking at bright lights.

“Dogs and cats generally have an aversion to bright light emitted by the sun as they peer more directly toward it,” Maybeck Animal Hospital in West Melbourne, Florida, wrote last week. “The discomfort it causes them as they squint is sufficient to override any curiosity they may have to look directly into the sun.”

As such, common household pets were likely “no more inclined to stare at the sun than they normally would.”

Neither should pet owners attempt to give their four-legged friends eclipse glasses. “I think that is more just going to cause anxiety having something on their face,” Barry told WABI.

While pets are unlikely to look at the sun of their own accord, the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it is best to keep them indoors with blinds or curtains drawn as they “pay close attention to how we’re reacting to a situation and can mirror our behavior.”

Little is known about how an eclipse itself affects animal behavior, as there are only a handful of opportunities to conduct scientific studies. However, scientists do know that animals tend to use the cycle of the sun to regulate their daily patterns, which an eclipse can confuse, potentially leading to anxiety.

“Researchers have found that most animals react to a solar eclipse by beginning their nighttime routines as totality approaches,” Austin Garner, a professor of biology at Syracuse University, who studies animal behavior, said on Tuesday. “Common animal vocalists in evening choruses, such as frogs and crickets, may begin singing, while animals that vocalize during the daytime, such as most cicadas, may stop.”

He added that some studies suggest domesticated animals such as dogs and horses, as well as some zoo animals, exhibit nervous behavior during an eclipse, “such as becoming silent and still, beginning to pace or cluster, and being particularly vigilant.”

A study of zoo animal behavior conducted by Adam Hartstone-Rose, a professor of biology at North Carolina State University, during the last total eclipse in the U.S. in 2017 found that Galapagos tortoises started mating and giraffes began galloping, which they usually only do if chased.