With the arrival of summer, with longer and warmer days, the desire to take beautiful walks with our four-legged friends increases, but the danger for our dogs and cats increases, such as the risk of contracting Filariasis , via sand flies, and flea and tick infestations.
However, there is an even more dangerous enemy from which we and our animals must defend ourselves and it is called “Thaumetopoea pityocampa”.
What is it or who is it?
Perhaps we know it best as a hairy caterpillar, hairy cat, or processionary .
The Processionary is a moth larva which, in the adult stage, is not a danger, but it is when it is in the larval state, because it damages the pines and in general all the conifers, devouring their needles, and becomes risky for us human beings, and it is sometimes lethal to cats and dogs.
When the caterpillar feels threatened, it releases the hairs that cover it into the air which, thanks to their hooked shape, literally hook onto the “victim”.
The hair, of which the body of the larva is covered, is stinging and if ingested (dogs do) or should come into contact with the skin, mucous membranes, eyes or respiratory tract, it can cause strong allergic reactions.
In spring and, usually during the night, the larvae begin to come out of the nests, but they can also be active during the day if they are hungry. In summer they become adults and the females lay their eggs, which hatch at the end of the season (August-September), releasing new larvae, which immediately begin their destructive activity of the infested plants.
Effects of the processionary moth on the dog:
If your dog were to come into contact with a processionary moth or even just its airborne hair, you would soon notice, the symptoms are in fact quite immediate.
The first is sudden and intense salivation, which is often followed by vomiting, after which the tongue swells considerably and the process of necrosis of the part that came into contact with the caterpillar begins, with the consequent loss of portions of the tongue. The dog also shows obvious signs of weakness, refuses food and may have feverish symptoms.
What to do if the dog licks a processionary moth
The first aid that we can put in place is to quickly remove the residual hair by washing the dog’s mouth with an abundant solution of water and bicarbonate. When carrying out this operation, use gloves and a mask to protect yourself from stinging hair.
Immediately take the animal to the veterinarian, who will ensure that it is safe; the sooner you do it, the more likely you are to help him.