Despite the recent cold weather, a plague of toxic catapillars has arrived early in Catalunya and dog owners are being asked to pay particular attention when walking their dogs in parks in Barcelona, because the catapillars could kill.
The eggs are laid in candyfloss-like nests in pine trees where they remain during the cold winter months.
As the temperature starts to rise with the approach of spring, the caterpillars hatch and drop to the ground to search for food. They can easily be spotted moving head to tail in a procession to form the conspicuous snake-like lines for which they are named. The caterpillars, measuring between three and four centimeters in length, are particularly dangerous to dogs, who may attempt to eat them.
Dogs are the main victims as when they come into contact with the caterpillars can pick up the hairs on their paws, which are then licked because of the irritation and the poison spreads to the mouth. They could suffer breathing difficulties, vomiting or start foaming at the mouth and should be taken urgently to the nearest veterinary clinic for an immediate cortisone and antibiotic injection. Sometimes amputation of the tongue or nose is the only course of action and of they reach the throat can cause suffocation and result in death.
The risk is particularly high in pine forests but is not confined exclusively to them and can occur anywhere where pine trees grow, including city parks, private gardens and roadsides.
Many councils carry out spraying in muncipal parks to lessen the danger but they can’t always be relied upon to eiminate the pest entirely. Be vigilant!
If you think your dog has been affected, we have a veterinary clinic in the Shop, please call us immediately.