Most dog owners in Spain have heard about a poisonous caterpillar that can kill your pet should they attempt to eat it or even tread on it. For those who have not please read on as it could save your dog’s life.
Despite the early cold weather that we encountered in December, the deadly Pine caterpillar (Thaumetopoea Pityocampa) has already been spotted in Andalucía, Alicante and Madrid.
Primarily found in pine forests living high up in a tent-like nest that resembles candyfloss the deadly beasts drop to the ground in search of food as the weather starts to warm up.
It is not only in the campo where you have to be vigilant but also in city parks and alongside roads where pine trees are present.
Measuring up to four centimetres in length the caterpillars are easily recognisable by their orange-brown colouring and blue bands.
The danger is in not only digesting them but coming into contact with their bristly-barbed hairs that contain a protein called thaumetopoein.
Unwittingly dogs tread on them causing the barbs to stick to their paws which when licked due to the irritation they cause spreads the poison to the dog’s mouth.
Signs that your dog has come into contact with the caterpillar include difficulty breathing, foaming at the mouth and vomiting.
Should any of the above occur you must immediately take your pet to the vet for antibiotic and cortisone injections.
If not treated right away your dog’s chance of survival is slim so please be alert to the dangers when out walking with your precious pet.