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Beware of Processionary Pine Caterpillars

It's that time of year again, the time when processionary pine caterpillars maker an appearance here in Estepona and along the Costa del Sol and take note: these guys are not just un-fun for your dog, they can be deadly. Here's what to look for and what to do to keep your dog safe:

Processionary pine caterpillars are small and fuzzy, usually seen marching end to end along the ground amongst the pine trees in the campo after hatching from their nests there, thus giving them their name. And while they look completely harmless, they are not. They kill the pine trees where they nest by eating its leaves and cause severe skin irritation, rashes, and asthma attacks in humans if they come in contact with the poisonous hairs that cover their body. Dogs, however, have it the worst: a brush with these tiny hairs will irritate a dog's paw, who will then instinctively lick it in an attempt to clear it. The poison then transfers to their mouth, which can cause severe swelling and can quickly lead to fatal anaphylactic shock.

Thankfully, processionary pine caterpillars are relatively easy to spot if you're looking out for them. They are distinctly-coloured with brown and orange bands and hatch in cotton-like nests in pine trees before marching downward in a procession and along the ground in long lines. If you're walking your dog in the campo, especially during this time of year, be vigilant and watch out for these processions which can be easy for your dog to accidentally step on or curiously sniff. Even if nearby, your dog could be “attacked” as well, as processionary pine caterpillars can launch their poisonous hairs if they feel disturbed or distressed, so always be on the lookout and immediately change direction if you spot any processionary pine caterpillar on the ground or their cotton-like nest in a nearby tree. Never try to move the caterpillars or their nests yourself, either, as this can cause their hairs to become airborne, which can be harmful -even deadly, to both you and your dog.

If you do accidentally come into contact with a processionary pine caterpillar and feel itchy or develop a rash, talk to your doctor. These rashes can be bothersome and last for weeks. If you are experiencing breathing difficulties, seek help immediately, as these symptoms can worsen quickly.

If your dog comes into contact with a processionary pine caterpillar, you should always seek help from a vet immediately, even if symptoms seem mild. Left untreated, there is a real danger of death. Signs to look out for are small white spots that will appear on your dog's mouth and tongue. They will probably drool more than usual, too. As time goes on, their tongue may also swell, which can be fatal unless and until they get treatment (usually a cortisone injection) from a vet to counteract the caterpillar's poison. When in doubt, seek advice from a vet as soon as possible.

We all want to ensure that our precious pooches stay safe as this time of the year, so why not set up a WhatsApp group chat with fellow dog walkers and if you see any processionary caterpillars whilst out walking, share the location on the group, so others can make sure to avoid it. The more eyes and ears on the ground, the better the chance of no incidences for all.

At Paws Doggy Daycare close to Marbella, our dog-loving carers are well-trained on the need for caution this time of year and will never take any risks with your dog while they're staying with us, either for daycare or while with us overnight in our doggy hotel. And although we do like to take frequent walks through the campo all year long, these are limited this time of year and only done when we have a small enough Paws pack with us that allows us to take all the necessary precautions to keep your dog safe.

Even without walks through the campo, our fully-enclosed, made-for-dogs facilities are more than enough to keep your dog tail-waggingly happy, healthy, and active. We proudly boast a new doggy garden area, hard surface play areas, restful terraces, and warm and cozy beds next to a real log fire alongside a carefully-vetted Paws pack of doggy friends so your dog can get all the rest, exercise, and socialisation they need, every time they visit us here at Paws Doggy Daycare in Estepona.

Book in your dog to Paws today -we can't wait to see your fur baby back with us!

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