Pine Caterpillar

The pine processionary caterpillar can cause serious public health problems. The urticating hairs of the caterpillar larvae cause harmful reactions in humans and other mammals.

Lagarta do Pinheiro

The pine caterpillar (Thaumetophoea pityocampa), also known as pine processionary, lives in pines and cedars. Between January and May, migration begins. They leave the pines in long head-to-tail processions and bury themselves in the soil a few inches deep.

Each processionary caterpillar has 120 000 stinging hairs distributed in 8 receptacles. When moving, the caterpillar opens these receptacles releasing thousands of hairs and increasing the possibility of intoxication of a person or an animal that comes in contact with them. The hairs act like needles, injecting the toxic substances into the skin or mucous membranes. Children and dogs by their curiosity and playful behaviour are the main affected by the pine caterpillar.

When sniffing or biting c57Baterpillars, dogs expose the muzzle and mouth to toxic hairs, and necrosis of tissues often occurs after contact. The tongue of dogs is usually the most affected organ. Initially it swells and turns blue, followed by the formation of yellow or black areas of necrosis. Other common sites are the oral mucosa, skin, eyes and digestive system.


  • General body pruritus or ocular pruritus
  • Lack of appetite and salivation
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Difficulty in swallowing
  • Respiratory distress
  • Sneezing
  • Feeling of fainting
  • Necrosis (tongue)

If you suspect that your pet has come in contact with the processionaries, you should take your pet IMMEDIATELY to the veterinarian. Early treatment favors prognosis.

You should not apply ointments or give your pet any medication. You can wash with vinegar or flush the affected area with plenty of water to relieve symptoms, NO SCRUB to prevent hair from further piercing the skin.

The treatment of the lesions is symptomatic because there is no antidote. The affected area will be washed (to remove caterpillar hair) and anti-inflammatories, analgesics and antibiotics will be prescribed (to prevent secondary infections).

In severe cases the animal may be hospitalized. In very severe situations, the affected area may have to be removed by amputation. Contact with caterpillars can be fatal for your pet.

When the caterpillars are in procession, you should prevent your dog from accessing the pine forests to prevent their contact with the caterpillars and resulting lesions.

Prevention is the best medicine!



Airway obstruction

If your pet suffocates or has respiratory difficulties, approach slowly and in a relaxed way because he will be distressed and therefore more reactive. He may have an airway obstruction.


An obstruction can be caused by:

  • Food, toys or other objects
  • Vomit
  • Cervical or throat trauma
  • Pathology of the upper respiratory tract
  • Edema (swelling) of the tongue


You should be aware when your pet:

  • Scratches with the paw in the area of ​​the mouth
  • Have his eyes bulging
  • is compulsively coughing
  • is agitated, anxious or unconscious
  • Has difficulty breathing (apnea)
  • Presents respiratory arrest
  • Have pale (anemic) or bluish (cyanated) gums


Try to calm your pet and remain calm yourself as you open his mouth and run your finger across to see if there is any object that might be causing the obstruction. Always keep in mind NOT TO PUSH THE OBJECT DEEP INSIDE!


If you can not feel any object, pull the animal’s tongue out gently with a cloth to try to unclog some foreign body that may be in the throat and re-inspect the mouth.

If you still can not clear the airway, perform the Heimlich Maneuver on your pet:

If your pet is a small dog or a cat, suspend it by the hips or raise his hind limbs with head down.


You can also place yourself behind the animal, wrap your arms around his belly near the hip, and apply pressure to the abdomen just below the rib cage, especially if it is a large animal that you can not lift. If the animal is unconscious, perform the maneuver with the animal lying on its side.


If you still can not remove the obstruction, you should do 5 abdominal compressions behind the last rib, followed by 5 mouth-nose breathings.


If nothing helps, a “sharp blow” between your pet’s shoulder blades may do the trick. Repeat the abdominal compressions.



Always run your finger in the animal’s mouth after each attempt to clear the object to see if it was released.

Even if you have been able to remove the foreign body, this situation requires immediate veterinary assistance as it may have caused internal injuries!



The state of shock results from a change in the blood flow and oxygen to the internal organs. In all emergencies, shock signals must always be considered because they indicate the severity of the case in question.



The state of shock results from a change in the flow of blood and oxygen to the internal organs. It can result from bleeding, trauma, heart failure, electrocution, allergic reaction, infection, etc.

Regardless of the specific cause, shock is the emergence which we may find ourselves most likely to pose a serious threat to the animal’s life. In all emergencies, shock signals must always be considered because they indicate the severity of the case in question.

In this situation the organism of the animal tries to compensate and the symptoms begin to be visible:

Early stage:

  • Tachypnea: Increased respiratory rate
  • Tachycardia: Increased heart rate
  • Normal or more intense pulse
  • Reddish mucous membranes
  • Capillary Refill Time (CRT) 1-2 seconds
  • Low temperature or in case of septic shock, increased

Body has difficulty compensating the reduction of blood and oxygen flow.


Intermediate phase:

  • Tachycardia: Increased heart rate
  • Weak pulse
  • Anemic (white) mucous membranes
  • Increased CRT
  • Low temperature (hypothermia)
  • Depressed state
  • Cold limbs

At this stage the organism can no longer compensate the blood flow and oxygen reduction to vital organs.


Final phase:

  • Bradycardia: Decreased heart rate
  • Bradipneia: Slow and superficial
  • Weak or absent pulse
  • Anemic or blue coloured mucous membranes
  • Increased CRT
  • Hypothermia
  • Depressed or unconscious state
  • Cold limbs


Cardio-respiratory arrest may occur and basic life support will need to be initiated:

  • Place the animal on its side with an extended neck
  • Raise the back of the animal if there is no suspected spinal fracture


  • Control hemorrhages
  • Warm the animal with a blanket


  • Rub the gums with honey.

This situation requires immediate veterinary assistance!


A hemorrhage is a loss of blood, which can be rapid if the blood is coming out of an artery, or slower if a vein has been reached. We will explain how to staunch a hemorrhage in the event of an accident or trauma. When there is massive blood loss it can be fatal because it causes cardiac arrest!



External hemorrhage is easily detected and may result from cuts or perforations. If it is superficial it only affects the skin and the small blood vessels that irrigate it. In this case you should wear gloves and do direct compression with gauze or clean material on the spot. Do not remove until bleeding ceases. If the bleeding does not stop, you should pay attention to:

  • If blood is intense red and comes out in a squirt then an artery was hit and you must carry out manual pressure above the injury
  • If the blood is dark red there was perforation of a vein and you should perform manual pressure below the lesion.


If you still can not control the bleeding, then make a pressure patch.


There are areas in the body where the arteries are located very close to the surface. By exerting pressure at a specific point, it will partially close the artery, reducing blood flow and allowing clot formation. When exerting pressure on these points you should every 10 minutes relieve the pressure to avoid permanent damage.

  • Hemorrhage on the anterior limb: Press with 3 fingers the inside of the armpit
  • Bleeding in the posterior limb: Press with 3 fingers on the inside of the groin
  • Bleeding in the tail: Apply pressure at the base of the tail



If despite all efforts you continue to be unable to stop the bleeding and, ONLY AS A LAST RESOURCE, apply a tourniquet! If necessary, be very careful because it can cause serious damage by preventing blood circulation.


To apply a tourniquet you must:

  • Give two laps with gauze above the hemorrhage, without knot
  • Fix the gauze with a rigid object, for example a pen
  • Slowly turn the pen until the bleeding stops
  • Relieve the pressure for a few seconds every 10 minutes to avoid permanent damage.




Cuts in the animal ears are difficult to staunch bleeding because they are very irrigated areas. In this case you should make a pressure ear patch:

  • Pressure the bleeding zone with the wound wrapped in gauze
  • Place a cotton piece between the animal head and the ear so that the ear is comfortably placed over the head
  • Put a bandage around the animal’s head, taking care not to squeeze his neck but stay firm. Leave the other ear free. Elastic gauze is preferred for greater flexibility of movement, safety and comfort of the animal
  • Optionally it can place a protector sock with severed end on the animal head to avoid him to be able to easily remove the pressure patch.


Seek veterinary care for more serious injury or severe cuts! Always be careful to disinfect the wound to avoid complications.

After controlling a superficial external hemorrhage, treat the wound or cut, disinfecting the wound and making a patch to cover the wound:

  • Cut the animal fur around the wound with a blade for better observation, disinfection and patch attachment
  • Clean the wound with abundant saline solution. Let it dry and place a disinfectant product. Dry again
  • If you choose an antibiotic ointment, apply a good amount on the gauze and cover the wound with it
  • Apply gauze over the wound and attach with gauze around the wound site
  • Change the patch and re-disinfect according to the injury, using saline solution to remove adhesive gauze
  • Place an Elizabethan collar or other containment method if necessary to prevent the animal from removing the patch or worsening the wound.


Internal bleeding is difficult to detect because it is not visible. After a fall or an accident, the animal may lose blood by rupturing an organ or an internal vessel.

If the animal has an internal hemorrhage, it will lower the temperature quickly and the mucous membranes (gums and conjunctivae) will become very pale. The animal can lose consciousness and go into shock. As we can not diagnose internal hemorrhage, in cases of accidents or falls, if there is loss of temperature, pallor and loss of consciousness, treat the animal as in the case of shock and refer it to the veterinarian immediately.

Hyperthermia or Heat Stroke

On a hot day with temperatures around 22 °C, which for us humans is quite tolerable, the temperature inside a car can reach 47 °C in an hour!


Elevation of body temperature above normal can be caused by an infection (fever), but it can also be caused by an external source. When the cause is environmental it is called hyperthermia or heat stroke and occurs when the body produces or absorbs more heat than it can dissipate.

Canine hyperthermia is a fairly serious condition, which can suddenly appear and evolve to an emergency situation in a matter of minutes. Knowing how to treat this disease can be vital in trying to save the animal’s life.


Risk factors:

  • Exposure to high temperatures
  • Excess of physical exercise
  • Obesity
  • Very young animals or elderly dogs
  • Heart and/ or lung disease
  • Brachycephalic breeds (flattened muzzle)
  • Large animals or dense fur
  • Animals closed in cars



  • Too much panting (increased respiratory rate)
  • Very thirst
  • Anxiety, weakness or tiredness
  • Diarrhea/ vomiting with blood
  • Deep red tongue (then blue or purple) and pale gums
  • Thick saliva
  • Increased heart rate
  • Disorientation
  • Convulsions
  • Collapse or coma




What to do:

  • Place the animal in a cool, ventilated place
  • Measure the rectal temperature of the animal. The normal temperature of a dog is 38-39 °C. Above 39.5 °C he is in hyperthermia and will be fatal above 43 °C
  • Put wet towels on the dog’s head, neck, paws and abdomen for gradual cooling. You can also use a water spray
  • Apply alcohol to the back, limbs and paw pads
  • Use a fan to facilitate cooling
  • Let the animal drink water at room temperature
  • Control the rectal temperature up to 39.4 °C and stop the cooling
  • Take the animal as quickly as possible to a veterinarian. He may have suffered internal injuries (organ damage).




What not to do:

  • Force the animal to drink water or give him cold water
  • Use ice to cool the animal because sudden changes in temperature are harmful (thermal shock)



  • Never leave the dog inside a car. Even with open windows, the internal temperature of a vehicle may increase rapidly after a few minutes, resulting in death
  • Care for the dog according to the season. Breeds of long and thick fur need care and shearing during the warmer season
  • Always leave the dog in places with shade and fresh water always available
  • Avoid walking on tar and excessive exercise in very hot weather.




If you see any dogs under these conditions in Portugal please alert the authorities:

Serviço de protecção da Natureza e do Ambiente da Guarda Nacional Republicana (SEPNA):

Tel: +351 213 217 291/2

Linha SOS: 808 200 520

Email: /

Through or the number +351 217 654 242 it is possible to request more information or report animal abuse situations!

Pet Basic Life Support

In the event of an accident or serious illness, it is necessary to evaluate the vital signs of the animal in order to assess the severity of the situation and to prioritize the lesions and pathologies (triage).

Main priorities:

  • Respiratory arrest, absence of pulse
  • Respiratory arrest, with pulse
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Shock
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Thoracic perforation
  • Severe bleeding
  • Hyperthermia/ Hypothermia
  • Intoxication

Basic Life Support

After pet vital signs evaluation, in case of cardio-respiratory arrest, basic cardiopulmonary resuscitation follows the ABC rule:

A- Airway
B- Breathing
C- Circulation

Observe if airways are unobstructed and evaluate heart rate and respiratory rate. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combines ventilation and chest compressions.


Heart Failure

In cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood into the body, there being no oxygenation in the tissues or removal of residual products. This situation is serious and can cause hypoxemia and ischemic organic lesions.

It occurs in animals that received severe shock when biting electric wires, after being hit, falls, drowning or severe trauma. Dogs and cats with heart disease undergoing stress or intense exercise may suffer cardiac arrest.

Place the animal in the right lateral decubitus, with the head and chest lower than the rest of the body. In the case of cats and small dogs (<9 kg), hold the chest between the thumb and fingers (Figure 1A). For medium to large dogs and cats (> 9 kg), place one hand over the other mid-thorax (Figure 1B) and compress about 25-50%. In gigantic, obese or wide-breasted chest animals (eg, bulldog), the animal should be placed in the supine position, with the head and chest lower than the rest of the body, and you should place one hand over the other on the sternum of the animal (Figure 1C).

Figure 1: Cardiac compression in A- small animals; B- medium / large size animals; C- Giant or obese/ wide-breasted chest animals.

Usually, at first occurs respiratory arrest, and the heart may continue to beat. Ventilation should be started as soon as possible and maintained until medical veterinarian care.



Respiratory Arrest

Check if the animal breathes, observing the thoracic movements or sensing the displacement of air in the nostrils. To do this, you can use the palm of your hand, a mirror that becomes fogged with breath or a cotton that moves with the air flow. You may want to listen to the airflow or observe the color of the mucous membranes. If they are bluish the animal is in hypoxia (lack of oxygen in the tissues).

When the animal does not breathe, the respiratory tract must first be observed. Lay the animal on the right side, extend the neck, always taking into account possible cervical traumas, open the mouth and pull the tongue. Check for any obstruction in the throat, caused by blood or objects. In the case of liquids, try vacuuming with a syringe. Do not try to take objects from his throat. Press the animal’s ribs firmly so that the object is ejected. Do 5-6 abdominal compressions and re-inspect the pharynx. Blow 2-3 times into the nostrils of the animal. If there is no obstruction to the air passage, start mouth-nose breathing. If there is obstruction to the air passage, perform the Heimlich maneuver.

To make mouth-nose breathing, close the mouth of the animal so that it is sealed, keeping the neck in extension. You should place your mouth in the animal nostrils and blow inwards 4-5 times, feeling the animal’s chest rise. Then press the ribs gently for the air to come out. One minute you should repeat the procedure 8 to 10 times (10 rpm). Make sure the animal starts breathing without assistance, evaluating the pulse every 10 seconds. Continue artificial respiration if the animal does not breathe on his own.

Figura 10. Ressuscitação cardio-pulomonar

Figure 2. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation.

For cardiac massage and ventilation should do:


Pet Restraining Methods

Restraining methods prevent you from being hurt by the animal you are trying to help or rescue, when applying first aid measures, restrain the animal’s movements, preventing him from aggravating his injuries, and facilitating observation and treatment. We describe some physical restraint methods available for dogs and cats.

There are several models available for dogs and cats. The cat model (Figure 1a) covers the animal’s entire face, including the eyes, helping to calm him.


Figure 1a: Cat muzzle.

When buying a dog muzzle model (Figure 1b), choose the model that is most comfortable for the animal and safer for you. There are many models available in the market but not all are reliable.

Figure 1b: Dog muzzle.

When you do not have a muzzle available you can improvise using a gauze or even a tie or a woman tights. Tie one knot over the dog´s face, another underneath and finally behind the ears (see Figure 1c). In the case of brachycephalic breeds (flattened face) an additional knot is required so that the muzzle does not come loose (See Figure 1d). Be careful not to get too tight or loose so neither you nor the animal will get hurt.

Figura 3. Açaime

Figure 1c: Gauze muzzle for dogs.

Figura 4. Açaime para raças braquicefálicas

Figure 1d: Gauze muzzle for brachycephalic dog breeds.

Do not put muzzle in situations where the animal is vomiting or has breathing difficulties!



The Elizabethan collar (Figure 2a) is normally used to prevent the animal from reaching a lesion in the body, not affecting his mobility. It can, however, help control an animal and avoid biting in an emergency situation.

Figure 2a: Elizabethan collar.

There are many models available already in the market (Figures 2b) to improve animal welfare when it is necessary to use an Elizabethan collar, varying in size and type of material. When buying one choose the model that best suits your pet and his well being and comfort.

Figure 2b: Alternative elizabethan collar models.



In order to immobilize a wounded animal, it can be done with the animal standing, as shown in Figure 3a. You can also place the animal in the lateral position (lying down), grasping him on his feet and leaning it against your body so you don’t drop him on the floor (See Figure 3b). To keep the animal lying down, hold him as in Figure 3c, taking care not to exert too much pressure on him.

Figura 5. Contenção em estação

Figure 3a: Standing restraining method.

Figura 6. Imobilização em decubito lateral 1

Figure 3b: Lateral retraining method.

Figura 7. Imobilização em decubito lateral 2

Figure 3c: Lying down retraining method.



To transport the animal you should do it safely, handling the animal as little as possible in case of suspected fracture, internal bleeding or when he was runned over by a car. Improvise a stretcher for example with a board and attach the animal to it with bandages, gauze or other material that you have available at the time, until arrival at the hospital or veterinary clinic (Figure 4).

Figura 8. Transporte

Figure 4: Transport of injured animal to a clinic or Veterinary Hospital.


The containment methods presented are not cruel, nor do they cause pain or injury to the animals, if applied as described. Some may be uncomfortable but will remain just long enough to treat the animal!

How to approach a stressed animal

In an emergency situation, it is necessary to approach the animal safely. He may find himself hurt and in pain, frightened and therefore will probably react to an attempt to contact him.

Before approaching an animal, dog or cat, be aware of his body posture in order to see if the animal is under stress, fear or pain.

By observing an animal you will quickly realize that they are constantly communicating through their body posture and signs, called calming signals. In this way they communicate with each other and with us and show how they feel, if they are relaxed and happy or, on the contrary, stressed and scared. A frightened animal can react in three ways: standing still, no reaction at all (freeze mode), running away from the cause of his fear or, when he does not have that possibility, he can react and attack in his defense! Often an animal reacts and we do not realize why he did it because we were not aware of his calming signals and the animal felt threatened by us!

Try to be more alert to avoid unpleasant contact with your animals and prevent future behavioral problems. We leave here some images of cats and dogs body postures and their meaning. Learn to know your best friend!






In an emergency or stressful situation, even your own pet can react aggressively to your approach or touch. If the animal shows tension (see the warning signs above), approach slowly and carefully, do not make sudden or noisy movements and speak in a calm and soft voice. Do not approach the animal directly or make direct eye contact with him. Approach sideways and let him come close to you and smell you. If he does not approach you, get close to him and squat down instead of bending over the animal. If it is necessary to catch the animal you can use a towel or make a tie with a leash. Be firm, calm and confident and apply a restraint and transportation method appropriate to the specie and situation.

How to Check your Dog’s Vital Signs

Knowing how to take your dog’s vital signs is an important key to monitoring and managing your pet’s health, it takes less than five minutes to do, and it is one more way you can become a better, more responsible pet owner!


  • Level of awareness: The alert state is when an animal is awake and responsive to the environment. It is the normal state of an animal. An animal is depressed if he is awake but less responsive to visual and tactile stimuli, with a tendency to fall asleep when not stimulated. This condition is common to many diseases and should be referred to a veterinarian if it persists the next day. The state of stupor is more serious, requiring immediate veterinary medical assistance. In this state the animal sleeps, responding only to painful stimuli. Finally, we have a coma where the animal no longer responds to painful stimuli. This is an urgency that should be immediately referred to the veterinarian
  • Temperature: The rectal temperature is measured with a thermometer. The normal temperature of a dog is 38-39 ° C and in cats is 38-39.5 ° C. The temperature of the animal is considered to be altered and in need of attention when it varies by more than 0.5 ° C from the reference values
  • Color of the mucous membranes: The color of the mucous membranes is usually analyzed by the gums or eyelids. It is a good indicator of the condition of blood circulation as well as oxygenation. In their normal state, the mucous membranes are reddish-pink. The veterinarian should be contacted immediately if they are white (anemia or shock), bluish (hypoxia), bright red (intoxication) or yellow (liver problems)
  • CRP: Capillary repletion time is the time the animal’s gum takes back to normal color after pressure is applied to the gum. The area should whiten and turn quickly to pink in 1-2 seconds in a healthy animal. This test is done to evaluate the state of the animal’s circulation
  • Hydration: The degree of hydration is evaluated through the elasticity of the skin. When pulling it in the lateral region of the body it is necessary to observe if it returns quickly to the normal position. When the skin slowly returns to normal position the animal has mild dehydration. In case of not returning to the normal position it presents serious dehydration
  • Heart Rate/ Pulse: A dog/ cat’s heart rate can be counted on the left side of the chest, in the area where the raised elbow touches the chest. To do this test the dog must be calm. Count the number of heart rate per minute (bpm). If it is not possible to determine the animal’s heart rate, you can try to determine the pulse rate. The pulsation is felt in the femoral artery located in the posterior limb, groin region. Put two fingers up into the animal’s thigh and count the heart rate per minute. Normal values ​​for a small dog are 70-180bpm. For a medium/ large dog about 60-140 bpm. In the case of a cat 120-240 bpm
  • Respiratory Rate: It is easy to count the number of breaths in a animal, just observe the movements of the chest box or place the hand on the chest to feel them. The respiratory rate should be counted before any manipulation of the animal, along with the heart rate, as it increases its normal frequency upon arousal. The value of breaths per minute (RPM) of a healthy dog ​​is 10-30 rpm. A cat has values ​​between 20 and 40 rpm.Measure the vital signs of your animals to have as reference in case of emergency.

Pet First Aid Kit

It is important to be prepared with a first aid kit at home and in the car, with some basic items that can save your pet’s life. A first aid kit, even if not necessary, gives you the security of knowing you are ready to handle emergencies. It is always better to have and not need, than to need and not have!


It is important to be prepared with a first aid kit at home and in the car, with some basic items that can save your pet’s life.

  • Always have the veterinarian’s emergency telephone number
  • Normal vital signs and animal weight information
  • Muzzle or gauze to contain the animal if necessary
  • Restraining collar
  • Bandage material: Compresses, Bandage, Adhesive, Scissors
  • Adhesive tape for animal immobilization
  • Tweezer to remove skin thorns or larvae or foreign neck objects
  • Syringes and needles to administer medication, irrigate wounds and aspirate secretions
  • Thermometer to evaluate rectal temperature
  • Thick towel / blanket
  • Latex gloves and thick gloves to protect who is assisting the animal
  • Antiseptic for disinfecting wounds, cuts and other skin lesions
  • Antiseptic alcohol to disinfect the hands of who will rescue the animal and metallic materials (tweezers and scissors)
  • Cotton / swabs
  • Lubricant
  • Physiological saline solution to clean wounds and burns
  • Honey or sugar to revive the animal
  • 3% hydrogen peroxide to disinfect wounds
  • Hemostatic (silver nitrate) to stop bleeding
  • Antihistamine (recommended by the veterinarian) for allergies
  • Topical antibiotic to prevent infections in cuts and wounds
  • Activated charcoal for poisoning situations
  • Small flashlight to observe cavities and evaluate pupil reflex.

A first aid kit, even if not necessary, gives you the security of knowing you are ready to handle emergencies. It is always better to have and not need, than to need and not have!