There’s a lot of well-intentioned misinformation circulating Facebook regarding pets and today’s solar eclipse. Don’t get me wrong, I love that people are thinking about their dogs and cats and want to make sure they’re protected, but it’s getting a little out of hand.
Is the eclipse going to make my pet go blind?
The simple answer is no.
The whole reason why the eclipse is dangerous for people is because, well, we’ll most likely be starting directly at the sun… which we normally DON’T do. The sun is no stronger, no brighter, no more dangerous. The only difference is that we’ll be staring DIRECTLY at it waiting for the eclipse. We (people and animals) have a natural impulse that causes us to quickly look away from the sun if we happen to glance in that direction. Us humans understand the phenomenon that is the solar eclipse and therefore will be fighting that instinct to watch history in the making. Frankly, your dog or cat will not give a hoot.
What the Professionals Say
According to knowledgeable sources like NASA and respected veterinarians, we really don’t need to worry about our cats and dogs. So before you shut them up in the house with all the blinds closed, read these quotes:
Author and Veterinarian Dr. Jessica Vogelsang says:
“In the interest of offering a realistic risk assessment, the likelihood of a pet ruining their eyes the same way a human would during an eclipse is much lower- not because the damage would be any less were they to stare at the sun, but because from a behavior standpoint dogs and cats just don’t have any interest in doing so. We tend to extrapolate a lot of things from people to pets that just doesn’t bear out, and this is one of them”
Angela Speck, a co-chair of the AAS National Solar Eclipse Task Force, Professor of Astrophysics and Director of Astronomy, University of Missouri, Columbia says:
“It’s no different than any other day. On a normal day, your pets don’t try to look at the sun and therefore don’t damage their eyes, so on this day they’re not gonna do it either. It is not a concern, letting them outside. All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. So I think that people who have pets want to think about that. I’m not going to worry about my cat.”
For the full NASA 2017 Total Eclipse Science Briefing, see the video below. Angela’s quote above is at about 53:25
A Clue From Our Pets’ Wild Ancestors
This is not the first total solar eclipse this planet has ever seen. In fact, there have been many. If animals, including our pets, had the same inclination to stare at the sun that us humans do during the eclipse, we’d see evidence of it in nature. We would have a whole lot of blind wolves, bears, tigers, stray cats, alligators and monkeys. And, well, we don’t.
If it makes you feel better to keep your pets inside, that is certainly an option. There is no harm in being extra cautious. But, please don’t stress about your cat sitting in a window or your dog needing to go outside to pee. They don’t need special glasses and they will be just fine. But you do, so if you don’t have glasses, get some or don’t look up! The sun really is damaging to your eyes if you choose to stare at it!
On that note, I’m getting ready to hop in the car and drive to SC towards the path of totality. And after hearing what NASA had to say, I’m bringing my dog with me. He’ll most likely be taking a nap in the truck, bored and confused as to why we’re sitting in a field doing “nothing” instead of adventuring, but he’ll make a good copilot. And we’ll hike afterwards 🙂
To see what your view of the eclipse will look like where you are, or to find a place in the path of totality, check out NASA’s interactive web app
Hope everyone enjoys today’s awesome historical event!
Thanks for reading,