Even an eclipsed sun gives off extreme light that can damage eyes, but you don't have to worry about your pet's. Pixabay, public domain

Most people learn from a young age not to look directly at the sun. But when there is a solar eclipse, such as the one that will take place on Aug. 21 across North America when the moon passes directly in between Earth and our star, that’s exactly what we do. The difference is that we use protective glasses. Do our pets also need some safety spectacles?

Humans go blind from staring at the sun or other sources of intense light. In the case of the sun, this is because the ultraviolet light is so intense, it creates a sort of sunburn on your corneas, the protective outer layer of the eye, and your retinas, the group of light-sensitive cells that are like the film in a camera.

Space.com noted animals don’t really look right at the sun, so their eyes probably will be OK.

Read: Amazing Eclipse Photos From NASA History

“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,” the University of Missouri’s Angela Speck said at a NASA news conference. “It’s not a concern, letting them outside. … All that’s happened is we’ve blocked out the sun, it’s not more dangerous. … I’m not going to worry about my cat.”

The one way it could affect animals is in how they behave.

“We know that animals react differently at different times of day and we know from anecdotal evidence from previous eclipses that you get animals interacting with that change in light and maybe the change in temperature too,” Speck said.

That could be a bird getting ready to nest for the night when the moon passes in front of the sun, or it could be frogs starting to croak like they would at the end of a day. Other animals relaxing outside might assume it’s time to go to sleep and head into a barn. And plants might change their behavior as well, like a lotus closing up for the night.

For those who still are worried about protecting their pets' eyes, the eclipse safety equipment for humans could work just as well on an animal like a dog.

Read: Planet With Huge Rings Eclipses Star in Orion

The total eclipse in August will last for more than 2 minutes, with a partial eclipse before and after, “when the moon completely blocks the sun’s bright face … turning day into night and making visible the otherwise hidden solar corona — the sun’s outer atmosphere — one of nature’s most awesome sights,” NASA said. “Bright stars and planets will become visible as well.”

The space agency warned looking at the solar eclipse through homemade filters, regular sunglasses a camera or a telescope is not very safe. A few manufacturers are certified to make eclipse viewers that will protect your eyes.

“If you are within the path of totality, remove your solar filter only when the moon completely covers the sun’s bright face and it suddenly gets quite dark,” NASA warned. “Then, as soon as the bright sun begins to reappear, replace your solar viewer to glance at the remaining partial phases.”