Do Dogs Care About Solar Eclipses?

Some dogs respond to the sudden darkness and dip in temperature that a solar eclipse brings. They may bark or exhibit odd behaviors. Others don’t care at all.

May 19, 2024By Colt Dodd
do dogs care about solar eclipses

April 2024 saw something incredible: a solar eclipse across certain parts of North America. Many people saw this phenomenon alongside their dogs, prompting some to wonder: “Do dogs care about solar eclipses?” The answer depends on your dog and other related factors. A dog may react to the sudden change in temperature and darkness by barking, pacing, or exhibiting strange behaviors. However, these changes are generally temporary.

Keep reading to learn more about how dogs react to solar eclipses—along with other animals’ responses.

Why a Dog May React to a Solar Eclipse

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Some dogs are more reactive than others. For instance, working dogs, like German Shepherds and Border Collies, are very perceptive. They recognize even the smallest changes in their environment; it’s part of their nature. The same might not apply to a Basset Hound that lazes around the house all day. They’re more focused on mealtimes and snuggle sessions.

That said, a dog that reacts to a solar eclipse may do so because:

  • Changes in temperature confuse them. In the path of totality, temperatures can drop several degrees in a matter of minutes. Dogs with little insulation (like Greyhounds) may shiver or find a warm place to curl up.
  • The darkness throws off their internal clock. Dogs can tell time just like people do. Granted, they don’t have watches, but they have a rough understanding of when the sun sets and rises. The darkness during a solar eclipse could cause them to nap or appear fatigued.
  • There’s a lot of people. Many people watch solar eclipses in crowds. A dog may experience anxiety or overexcitement from being with new faces. But that’s more a response to crowd-gathering, not the eclipse itself.

Your Dog Won’t Look into the Sun

dog sleeping in sun
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

Animals instinctively don’t look directly into the sun. It can cause momentary blindness, which can spell disaster in the wild. So, if you’re bringing your dog to view a solar eclipse, you don’t need to buy them doggy solar glasses. However, you can ensure your dog has a fulfilling experience by:

  • Monitoring any changes in behavior
  • Understanding the signs of stress and anxiety
  • Checking in periodically
  • Understanding their stress limits
  • Associating the event with a reward, such as a high-value treat

As tempting as it may seem, do not lift your dog and force them to stare at the sun. As noted, this can cause lifelong blindness, creating many challenges as your dog ages.

Dogs Respond to Other Natural Events, Too

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

As noted, some dogs are very perceptive. This is why certain breeds (such as Golden Retrievers) make great alert dogs. Relying on their sense of smell, they can detect chemical changes that could indicate high blood pressure or low blood sugar in their handlers.

The same perception applies to natural events. For instance, according to Dr. Stanley Coren (the author of “the Intelligence of Dogs”), a dog can sense an earthquake up to 24 hours in advance. Dr. Coren noted that dogs with pointy ears and smaller heads were best at detecting the sound of rocks scraping beneath the earth.

Dogs can also sense hurricanes. By detecting subtle changes in air pressure, a dog may appear anxious or refuse to go outdoors. They may also hide under the bed, hide their treats and food, and cling to their owners more so than usual. Because dogs have more heightened senses than their human handlers, they make excellent service animals and alert dogs.

What if a Solar Eclipse Stresses Out My Dog?

sad dog eyes
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

If you live in North America, here’s some bittersweet news: the next total solar eclipse won’t happen for another 22 years. So, you don’t have to worry about your dog stressing out for another two decades. However, if you want to prepare in advance, here are some tips for keeping your dog stress-free:

  • Create a safe environment. For instance, you could line your dog’s crate with toys, blankets, and treats. This gives them a safe place to retreat during times of stress.
  • Offer natural supplements. Some supplements, like CBD dog treats, can reduce your dog’s anxiety level and help them stay calm. These are great treats if your dog hates fireworks or other loud noises.
  • Turn on some music. Create a comfortable space in a confined area (such as in a walk-in closet) and play some music. The distraction can take your dog’s mind off the triggering event.

If you have a dog that mostly hangs out at home, chances are, they won’t even notice the solar eclipse. While your family’s in the backyard taking pictures, your dog might snooze through the whole thing.

What Other Animals React to Solar Eclipses?

Smithsonian Magazine published an article regarding how different animal species react to solar eclipses. By comparing the solar eclipses that happened in 1932, 2017, and 2024, scientists found that animals do respond to the environmental change. Some of these changes included:

  • Swarms of honeybees becoming threatened. They rushed back to their hives and emitted a low, droning sound by moving their wings in unison.
  • A tortoise orgy. Galapagos tortoises are usually sedentary creatures. Yet, during the most recent solar eclipse, a group broke out into a mating session which scientists described as both “remarkable” and “bizarre.”
  • A Komodo dragon escape attempt. Scientists observed a captive Komodo dragon remained perfectly still in the 48 hours prior to the solar eclipse. Then, during the three-minute event, it did everything possible to escape its enclosure––which it had not done previously.

In another observation, a troop of gorillas retreated to their evening habitat in the middle of the day. While these reactions may seem random or mundane, there’s no denying that animals respond differently to certain natural events than others. The same applies to dogs!

Colt Dodd
By Colt Dodd

Colt Dodd is a sighthound enthusiast with three years of freelance writing experience. He has an Italian greyhound/Shetland sheepdog mix named Homer. In his spare time, he enjoys going to dog parks and writing fiction.