In the spring, this is the moment when processional caterpillars come out of the pines or oaks to turn into a butterfly. They represent a danger for pets and humans because of their urticant hair.
What is a processing caterpillar?
Processionary caterpillars are butterfly larvae, thaumetopoea pityocampa, which colonize pines, cedars or hardwoods like oaks. After hatching of the eggs laid in these trees between June and September, the caterpillars stay there, warm all winter, in a silk nest; they come out to feed on the night.
At the time of their transformation, in March-April or from the month of January if it is mild, they all come out in the Indian file connected to each other by a silk thread to go shoeing in the earth. It is from this mode of movement that their name of processionary caterpillars comes. It is precisely at this stage, larval, that the processing caterpillar is the most dangerous for our pets which, attracted by this long insect ribbon which moves, can not help but put their noses or language. ..
In France, the caterpillars were mostly present on the Mediterranean coast, but from year to year, they went back north. We find today until the hills of Normandy and the Paris region. Other countries like Portugal, Spain, Italy, Morocco are also concerned.
- According to the Department of Forest Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Food –
Why processionary caterpillars are a danger for the dog?
To protect themselves from predators, processionary caterpillars have a formidable weapon. On their bodies, they have hairs, invisible to the naked eye, mutants containing a very powerful toxin called thaumatopoein. These hairs have the particularity of detaching very easily. In contact with skin or mucous membranes, they Provide impressive allergic and irritating reactions as well as necrosis of tissues.
The danger is therefore important for dogs, sometimes too curious, who go into contact with processionary caterpillars during their trips in the spring. Classically, the urticant hair will reach the tongue, the babies, the eyes or the nose of the dog.
These caterpillars are dangerous also in the cocoon they will build, both in humans and dogs and cats. The hairs of caterpillars can be transported by ambient air in case of wind blowing in the branches. It is for this reason that your town hall must be better informed, if you have it in your garden, to get them removed. There are also ecological pitfalls to set up along the trunks at the end of the winter, in January, to capture caterpillars before they reach the ground. The best is to use professionals to ask them correctly.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS
The contact with processional crawler hairs is extremely painful. It causes a strong inflammation at the origin of burns and oedema of the affected area.
In case of contact with the language, there will be strong salivation followed by a very important swelling of the tongue, called glossitis, sometimes that the dog can no longer contain in his mouth. The language can also change colour, becoming red, black or greyish. Under the action of the toxin, the tongue tissues may even be destroyed irreversibly, resulting in the loss of the oppressed organ piece. Some dogs can lose small tongue pieces at their end, which, once healed, will present a serrated appearance. Other dogs can go so far as losing half or all of their language. In the latter case, the dogs, then incapable of drinking or eating, will have to be euthanized. On the other hand, a dog that has lost up to half of its tongue will be embarrassed to eat and drink for life but can adapt and survive.
If the dog swallowed the caterpillars, the same process of tissue destruction can touch the internal digestive organs (oesophagus or stomach) and cause the death of the animal.
General symptoms such as anaphylactic shock involving vital prognosis are possible but rather rare nevertheless.
How to react if your dog has been in contact with cultivating caterpillars?
If you notice these symptoms, you have to take your dog urgently to your veterinarian. It is he who cleans the different lesions. It is important, indeed, not to handle your dog too much. The man also reacts to processionary caterpillar hairs.
If your veterinarian is distant, you can do one or two shampoos to eliminate a maximum of utilizing substances as soon as possible if it is the skin of your pet that has been touched. But be careful, do not touch the urticant hairs or bare-headed tracks: bring gloves, also to wash your pet.
In case of oral contact, you can lick to the dog of ice cubes or ice cream (without chocolate!) To reduce swelling, Before going to the veterinarian as soon as possible.
If there is not much to do to stop the inveninimization, the veterinarian will still focus on fighting inflammation and shock by administering the dog fast-acting corticosteroids. He will relieve his pain by administering antalgics and antibiotics to avoid any complications due to superinfection.
If the cruising hairs have touched the tongue, the veterinarian will be able to choose to partially amputate the organ to prevent necrosis from destroying it totally.
- with the kind permission of Os Quiet Masters – Canine-Rouvre Behavioral Educator (28) –
Homoeopathy can also help, in addition to conventional treatment, reduce the destruction of tissues affected by the toxin. Immediately after the accident, administer to your dog five granules of Urtica urens 5ch and 5ch APIs every 2 hours for two days and then three times a day for three days.
Phytotherapy can also help relieve pain. Curcuma is particularly suitable for its analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties.