Spring has sprung
With the onset of spring there are certain medical conditions and pests that come to the fore as the climate becomes warmer.
The Processionary Caterpillar, is an insect that can cause hives in people and even death for pets. The caterpillars are covered in very fine sting hairs that can cause nasty reactions and in pets that might try and eat them can cause nasty mouth lesions with tongue necrosis being the most common symptom.
The Processionary caterpillar has an annual cycle, so it will be seen every year. The cycle begins in summer, where eggs are laid. With the arrival of the cold, they build the nests in the pine forests. When the temperature begins to rise, it accelerates development until they become caterpillars that descend down the trunk to the earth in procession, one after another and forming long lines until they bury themselves and form a chrysalis.
N.B . they are insects, have 6 legs, might have prolegs or little hocks which may appear to be legs.
In addition, allergies are more frequent in spring (like humans, atopic allergies are increased by the presence of allergens in the environment such as pollen). In Gibraltar this combined with the perpetual cloud of builder’s pollution that has engulfed Gib for years leads to a massive increase in allergies in our pets. The most common symptoms are itching in dogs and asthma in cats.
Leishmaniasis is another warm weather illness that is spread by the bite of the Sand-fly and is more frequent during the spring and summer months. It is caused by a protozoa and once your dog has contracted this illness it is for life. It can be controlled and managed but rarely is it eliminated. Among the symptoms we find are weight loss, hair loss, long nails, nose bleeds and lethargy.
During the warmer months there are more insects that can cause result in a nasty bite like bees and wasps. Not much you can do to prevent this, they are always accidents where a pet is at the wrong place at the wrong time. If reaction is severe then seek veterinary assistance.
In addition, there are also more fleas and ticks that could affect the health of our pet, as they feed on blood they can cause itchiness and infections and can also spread disease. Proper ecto-parasite protection is essential, consult your veterinary surgeon for what works best for your pet. Prevention is always better than cure.
Grass seeds will also be a problem over the next few months, the aerodynamics of the seed make them easy for them to imbed in your pet’s coat and then migrate into the skin causing ulcers, abscesses and infection.
On a more positive note the weather is better, time to get out walk your companion animals, get some exercise, enjoy the sun and build up those Vitamin D levels.