Protect your dog from the processionary caterpillar

As temperatures rise, the processionary caterpillar leaves its nest to descend to the ground. Here’s everything you need to know about it.

What is the processionary caterpillar?

The pine processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is a species of caterpillar usually found in Mediterranean and temperate regions of Europe. Its presence becomes noticeable during the colder months, when the white pockets on pine trees are more visible, affecting the growth and health of these trees. In addition, its impact extends into the warmer months, when the caterpillars abandon their nests and descend to the ground, posing a threat to humans and animals.

They mainly inhabit pines and other species, such as cedars and firs. Between February and May, they descend from the trees in processions to bury themselves in the ground and pupate, transforming into butterflies in spring. These larvae are characterized by their hairy appearance and their tendency to move in a line, hence their name.

It is important to take special care in green areas such as playgrounds, walking areas and natural spaces where these trees are present.

How can it affect my dog and what are the symptoms?

In humans, contact with the processionary can cause irritation of the nose, ears and throat. However, for dogs, the health consequences can be much more serious.

These caterpillars have stinging hairs loaded with a toxin that can cause allergic reactions, inflammation, necrosis in the affected area (mouth, nose, eyes...) and even damage to the mucous membranes and the digestive and respiratory systems if ingested. The most common symptoms in affected dogs include excessive salivation, vomiting, swelling of the tongue and lips, difficulty breathing and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock.

Therefore, in the event of any symptom that makes us suspect that our dog has been in contact with a processionary caterpillar, it is crucial to act quickly by going to the veterinarian immediately.

How to prevent contact with the pine caterpillar

  • Avoid walking your dog in areas where there are pine trees between February and May, since this is when the caterpillars descend from the trees in processions.
  • If this is not possible, use leashes to keep your dog away quickly in case of detecting the presence of the processionary.
  • Pay attention to the presence of processionaries in your environment and report any findings to the competent authorities for control and management.
  • Educating your dog not to touch or ingest unfamiliar objects during walks could prevent problems with processionary and other dangerous substances.

In conclusion, protecting our canine friends from the processionary involves being alert, taking precautions, and acting promptly in case of suspicion to prevent our dogs from suffering the consequences of this dangerous insect.

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