On Aug. 21, 2017, millions of people across the country will have the chance to experience what's known as the "Great American Eclipse."
The rare occurrence (the last coast-to-coast total solar eclipse, according to CNN, took place in 1918), in which the sun is totally blocked by the moon, will cross through 14 states. People from all over are planning to—safely, of course—experience this phenomenon with their own eyes.
But, as people prepare to take part in the out-of-this-world event, many pet parents are wondering what impact, if any, the total solar eclipse will have on their dogs and cats.
Thankfully, pet parents won't have to worry about their pets staring directly at the sun and hurting their eyes because, inherently, cats and dogs don't do this.
Greg Novacek, a physics instructor at Wichita State University, said that the glasses humans wear to watch the eclipse can be worn by dogs, but only if the dog is going to look directly at it, which is not recommended, nor is it in the dog's instinct to do so. (Anyone who doesn't have the proper eye protection during the eclipse can damage their eyes, Novacek explained.)
So long as you aren't making your dog or cat stare at the sun, there are certain aspects of the eclipse that may impact your pet. "Inside of the total eclipse path (or near it where more than 95 percent of the sun gets obscured), the sky darkens significantly and the ambient temperature can drop 10 degrees Fahrenheit, or so," said Edward Guinan, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Villanova University. "So animals and pets could easily sense this."
Still, as Guinan pointed out, even that shouldn't have much effect on pets or their behavior overall. In fact, the only way that your pets may become startled by the eclipse, Guinan said, is because of your reaction.
"I do not expect unusual behavior—like pets going crazy—unless their owners get real excited during totality," he said. "Many eclipse observers get so excited that they scream and shout with joy when the total phase happens. Total eclipses are real amazing. This human behavior could disturb their pets."
To ensure your pet doesn't get spooked by your reaction or to avoid any risk of them looking at the sun or being impacted by the light and temperature change, Guinan suggested pet parents leave their cats and dogs indoors at least 30 minutes before, and after, the total eclipse occurs.
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