Dangers lurking in the wild.


Despite there being no lethal snakes in the Spanish nature, there are other stinging and biting bugs and creep.

Rats spread diseases but what's more dangerous is the poison that is spread throughout the environment to defeat them. Large amounts of rat poison is deployed in and around our homes. Contrary to popular belief, modern rat poison is dangerous for both humans and pets. Many people believe that it is only effective for combating rats and therefore harmless for humans and other animals. This type of reasoning is both illogical and incorrect.
If you see your dog with a bag of rat poison in it's mouth, try to induce vomiting to the dog by placing a tea spoon of mustard on the back of it's tongue. If this attempt is unsuccessful, go to your nearest veterinarian who will administer emetics (vomit-inducing substances) for your pet. If there is reason to suspect that your pet has ingested rat poison, your pet should immediately be placed in long-term treatment with vitamin K. Do not wait until the symptoms appear, because by this point it is usually too late.

Wasp stings are common but often completely harmless. Sometimes, however, both animals and humans can develop an allergy to wasp stings that in mild cases takes it's form in an accute swelling of the stung area. In more severe cases it can be the start of a powerful allergic reaction, which can lead to lowered blood pressure. If this goes untreated it can lead to shock and death. Mild symptoms can be cured using prescription-free medicines.
Cats can be given a pill of Polaramine R (containing 12,5 mg diphenhydramine) and dogs 50mg hydrocortisone. Small dogs are given one, medium sized dogs are given two, and large breeds get three.

Despite their reputation, both scorpions and tarantulas are non-lethal. But their stings, however, are extremely painful. Quick pain relief can be administered through applying ice on the bitten/stung area.
Most spiders in Spain are completely harmless, but there is at least one that can be dangerous. Latrodectus mactans – commonly known as the Black Widow. It has earned it's dramatic nickname due to the fact that the female eats the male after mating. It's bite is not life-threatening, but leaves a deep crater-like wound. It's poison destroys the tissue around the affected area thus quickly infecting the bite. This is treated by administering both cortisone and antibiotics to the pet.

The centipede (Escalopendra) can also be dangerous. It can grow up to a maximum length of 15cm and is usually of a yellow-brownish colour. Like the scorpion and tarantula it thrives in dry, stony places. It's sting is very painful and normally leads to infections and bleeding. Cortisone and especially antihistamines can be given as first aid. These should be commonplace in every dog and cat owner's medicine cabinet. It is also advisable to bring them along on long walks with your pet.

The fluffy-looking Thaumetopoea pityocampa larvae is a larva of the Pine Processionary Moth. The sight of them climbing down from the pine trees in large colonies, slowly moving towards a seemingly unknown goal can provoke tender thoughts in both humans and pets. They awake a dog's curiosity and it wants to play with them and so hits them with their paw. The worms are extremely sensitive to touch and when wounded they secrete a venomous acid which stings painfully upon contact with the skin. To ease it's pain, the dog licks it's paw and thus effectively spreading the venom to the mouth. Here, the poison can cause extensive and severe tissue damage. This is medical emergency and the pet should receive a vet's attention as soon as possible. As first aid, however, it is advisable to flush the dogs mouth with lots of water. Bear in mind that the pine nematodes venom is also harmful for humans, so be sure to wear protective gloves.

Susanne Kamu
Clinica Veterinaria Pet Vet Kamu
C/. Maestra Aspiazu, Puebla Lucia, ES-29640 Fuengirola (Málaga) Spain.
Tel: (+34) 952 667 333, contact@petvetkamu.com
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