Why you may want to to keep Moxie and Mittens inside
By Si Si Penaloza
Unless you’ve been hibernating under a pizza, you’ve likely heard that a total solar eclipse is scheduled to cross the North America on August 21, 2017. Solar event junkies and NASA nerds aren’t the only ones making travel and viewing plans, the curiosity appears widespread as this kind of skywatching phenomenon hasn’t happened in over a hundred years.
During the eclipse, the moon will pass between earth and the sun, casting its lunar shadow across a path that extends from Oregon to South Carolina – the path of totality. As the moon’s shadow begins to block the sun’s light, parts of the sun’s fiery disk will continue to be visible, and can literally burn any eyes — human or fur baby— directed at it.
As the moon moves in front of the sun, daylight will yield to darkness from Oregon to South Carolina along a path 60 to 70 miles wide. The path of totality will also cut across broad swaths of Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Missouri, Kentucky and Tennessee, along with corners of Kansas, Georgia and North Carolina, and a tiny chip of Iowa.
Totality will first hit Oregon around 10.15am Pacific time. South Carolina will experience the final moments of total darkness at 2.49pm Eastern time.
Many of us more casual, armchair watchers have our total solar eclipse-viewing plans all worked out for next Monday.
One thing to consider in advance – is the solar eclipse safe for pets?
The top question is whether pets need to wear special sunglasses the way people do. Luckily for us and Fido, it’s unlikely that pets will look directly into the sun the way humans have been urged against.
Some experts think that your pet will be fine outside while the eclipse is occurring, while others prefer to err on the side of caution. It may be unwise letting your pet roam unchecked during a solar eclipse — mostly because you can’t always control where your pet looks, or when.
The danger for pets is pretty much the same as it is for humans: looking at the sun during an eclipse without proper eye protection can result in retina damage. Often called “eclipse blindness,” the condition of suffering damage to your eyes due to looking at an eclipse is officially termed solar retinopathy. While humans are capable of taking proper precautions, pets are animals – ultimately, they do what they want, when they want.
Ralph Chou, professor emeritus at the University of Waterloo’s School of Optometry & Vision Science, told Space.com, “I have seen instances where the patient has eventually shown up with crescents burned into the back of the eye, and you can almost tell exactly when they looked.”
Safe solar viewing is a must, no matter who or what. This includes dogs, cats, and other feathered friends. Ophthalmologist Vike Vicente recently said to the Washington Post, “You can stare at the sun during an eclipse for 10 minutes, and it doesn’t hurt. You can just look at it, and it’s really cool to look at it, but that whole time you’re literally burning the cells off your retina. And once they’re burned, there’s no repair, there’s no fix for it.”
Better safe than sorry we say — which, in this case, means either outfitting your pet with their own solar eclipse glasses (bound to win the most biscuits at the eclipse block party), or keeping them inside with the curtains drawn.
Dr Don Moore of Oregon Zoo said most dogs and cats might want to go to bed or eat at a different time. As the sun gets covered, they may assume it’s night time and start nestling down for the day.
Try to keep your pet indoors, if for no other reason than protecting your pooch or cat from the crowds that may gather outside during the solar event. Traffic and loud noises may cause pets anxiety, so the safety protocols pet parents take during the Fourth of July are good to follow for the eclipse.
Finally, the National Park Service recommends not traveling with pets during the eclipse.