Costa Animal Society

Helping animals since 1986

Information for Pet Owners

"Professional" Caterpillars

Processionary caterpillars present a serious danger to inquisitive pets which can receive a potentially fatal sting or bite. Over the winter, the caterpillars have been growing in nests which hang like balls of candy floss or cotton wool from the branches of pine trees, each holding up to 200 of the creatures. Eventually, they turn into harmless moths, but once the nest falls to the ground and the caterpillars move off in search of somewhere to pupate, they become extremely dangerous. They can travel for long distances so the threat may be present far from the nearest pine tree. When they’re on the move, the caterpillars walk nose to tail, which gives them the nickname processionary, and can appear at first to be like a small snake wriggling across the ground. However, a cat or dog which gets too close can come into contact with the insects’ hairs which dispense a rapid-acting toxin.

This causes swelling, foaming, drooling and pain. In a small animal, it can cause death, especially if the victim swallows a hair which will cause the throat to constrict, leading to asphyxiation. Other, luckier pets have lost part of their tongues after licking a caterpillar.

Immediate treatment from a vet is essential, but avoid contact with the animal’s saliva because the toxin can affect humans as well. The young, the elderly and those who suffer from toxic allergies should be kept well away.To minimise the problem, farmers cut down the nests and then burn them in a metal bucket to prevent as many of the hairs as possible being left to float off in the air. Treading on the caterpillars does not destroy these toxic hairs.


First Aid For Pets - PDSA Link HERE

Leishmaniasis Can be Beaten

This is Taiga, now homed in Germany. She arrived half-dead with Leishmaniasis and was almost put down. Now, after treatment and care she is in good health and recent blood tests were excellent. Leishmaniasis is not necessarily the end of the road.

Winston's Warning - Snares & Traps

The Costa Animal Society has issued a warning to dog owners who let their pets loose in the campo following a serious injury suffered to Winston. He is on the mend but others may not be so lucky. Winston disappeared in the middle of December somewhere between Torrox and Cómpeta. Despite searches, posters and radio announcements, there was no news of his whereabouts, until three weeks later when he suddenly appeared back at his home, horribly injured.  The dog had become caught in a wire snare which had tightened around his body, cutting into the flesh, as pictured right. His owners, Andrea and Terry rushed him to Expedito the vet who managed to remove the remains of the snare and begin to repair the extensive damage. It’s good to report that Winston has responded well to antibiotics but still has to visit the vet every other day to have his wound cleaned. Although another operation is not out of the question, Andrea and Terry report that, remarkably, he is in good spirits!
Winston’s movements in the three weeks he was missing are still unknown and how he came to return to his own home is also a mystery.  But unfortunately, this is not the first case of its kind reported to CAS this winter and dog owners are warned that there are illegal traps and snares in the local countryside ready to trap any animal which becomes too inquisitive.
Please report any incidents to CAS who will forward them to Seprona, the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil, for action.


Part-Time Pets

Many people would like the company of a pet cat or dog, but are reluctant to make a long term commitment. What happens if I have to return to my home country? What do I do with the animal during my holidays?

The Costa Animal Society has the answer: a part-time pet! Why not consider fostering a cat or a dog until a permanent home can be found for it? Fostering can be a rewarding experience with the main responsibility being to care for an animal as if it were your own.

CAS relies heavily on a network of volunteers to foster animals. They keep CAS regularly updated with information on the animal which CAS displays on its new website ( and forwards to other charities throughout Europe.

Animals can be from a few days to several years old, and can be fostered for anything from a few days up to months. The fosterer feeds, walks and generally includes the animal in all family activities. Some fosterers already have pets, which is not a pre-requisite but it does help the animal to socialise.

However, some fosterers only have foster animals, giving them the freedom to only have a part-time pet when it suits them, rather than the permanent long-term responsibility of ownership. Occasionally, the fosterer wants to keep the animal, which is possible provided that the animal has not already been reserved by another adopter and that CAS is notified immediately.

CAS will try to remove animals from foster homes if the fosterer is experiencing difficulty. Finding another foster home is done as quickly as possible but can’t always be achieved the same day.

If the foster pet becomes ill or is in need of medication, CAS will pay for vet bills, but once an animal is adopted, the new owner becomes responsible for all expenses.

Some animals are re-homed locally and potential new owners may ask to come and meet the animal. This can be done at the foster home or arrangements can be made to meet at another location. Fosterers’ telephone numbers are published on the CAS website allowing adopters to contact the fosterers directly. There is no-one else who knows the animal better than its fosterer!

All manner of people can foster, from those living in the countryside to people in towns and villages, apartments and villas. The only requirement is that the animal is well cared for: fed and watered, kept warm when it’s cool and cool when it’s warm.

If you are interested in becoming a CAS fosterer, please contact Wendy on (+34) 95 203 7095 for a no obligation chat.


Don't Leave Pets in Cars!

The Costa Animal Society is reminding dog owners never, ever to leave their pets locked in the car. Police officers can and will break in to rescue the animals and will prosecute the owner.

In June, local police in Torre del Mar broke into a car parked in the town’s Plaza de la Paz to rescue six dogs suffering from dehydration. Passers-by raised the alert after the car had been standing in the sunshine for five hours. When the owner finally appeared two hours later, he was told the dogs, which were unregistered, had been taken to a welfare centre.

And on a very hot day in the UK last summer, a Nottingham police dog handler left two German shepherds in his parked car where the temperature quickly rose to almost 50 degrees. Both dogs died within 20 minutes and the officer was prosecuted.

You have been warned!


Andalusian Vaccination Laws

All dogs, cats, ferrets, miniature or Vietnamese pigs, plus certain bird species must now have a pet passport. The Costa Animal Society reminds pet owners that new regional legislation places stricter obligations on them when it comes to protection against infectious diseases which can be contracted by humans.

The regulations which came into force on April 30 are a revision of Andalucía’s animal protection laws of 2003. Owners who fail to observe them face a fines of up to 30,000 euros.

Puppies already had to receive a vaccination against rabies at three months, but now they must be given another dose 30 days later. Thereafter, an annual booster is obligatory. The measure also applies to kittens and ferrets.

Treatment against the parasitic disease echinococcosis, which is caused by the larvae of various species of tapeworm, was previously voluntary but is now compulsory. Dogs, cats and ferrets should be vaccinated against it by a vet at least once a year.

Treatments and check-ups for canine leishmaniasis, another parasitic disease, must now be recorded on the dog’s pet passport. It is now obligatory to treat any dog which has contracted canine leishmaniasis, a diagnosis which must be confirmed with a laboratory test, and any animal not treated must be put down.

In addition, birds which make up the order Psittaciformes – that’s parrots, cockatoos and the like – must now be treated for the lethal bacterial infection chlamydophila psittaci 45 days before they are sold, while these birds and all dogs, cats, miniature and Vietnamese pigs must now have a pet passport in which the obligatory treatments are recorded by a vet.

There are also revisions to the legislation on the change of ownership of an animal and on the rules regarding how animals must be put down or destroyed.


Look For The Tattoo!

Just because a lost dog doesn’t have a microchip, it doesn’t mean it has not be registered as a pet. If the animal originated in France or Italy, it may very well have distinguishing tattoo instead.

The practice came to light recently when a dog was brought to the Costa Animal Society for rehoming. No microchip was detected and with no other means of identification, it was assumed to be a stray and was prepared for a flight to the Netherlands to join a new family.

However, shortly before departure, the dog’s French owner came forward to claim it, pointing out the tattoo which had been overlooked Typically, this is inside the ear or on the forearm. So, this story had a happy ending when dog and owner were reunited.

Meanwhile, as well as the microchip which is obligatory in Spain, CAS advises all dogs owners to fix a metal tag to the collar with the dog’s name on one side and a contact telephone number on the other. It’s a quick and easy way for a finder to find you!

And if a found dog appears to have no identification, try looking on the inside of the collar where many Spanish owners write their phone number.

Finally, bear in mind that a microchip inserted in one region of Spain may not be cross-referenced with other regions. An animal protection society in Cataluña recently reported that a stray dog found in a Barcelona suburb had been reported missing in Málaga. Dexter disappeared last November but how he travelled 1,000 kilometres and arrived in good condition is unknown. His Andalucían microchip was unreadable by his Catalan carers who took some time to find out where he had come from.


Reporting Cases of Animal Cruelty

There are increasing numbers of animal cruelty cases and people who come across them, often don't know how to make an official complaint (denuncia) to the police. Seprona, the environmental arm of the Guardia Civil, has given the Costa Animal Society this set of guidelines on what to do.

There are laws to protect animals from cruelty. They cannot complain when they have no food food or water, shade from the sun or protection from rain, or have been tied up on a short chain and then forgotten.

But we can speak for them. Please help.

1. Go to your local Civil Guard bas (Guardia Civil cuartel). Neither the local police nor the National Police handle complaints of this kind.

2. Take as much written information with you as you can. Names, addresses and a map showing where the animal is will help officers easilly to investigate your complaint. .

3. If you don’t speak Spanish, get someone who does to go with you or contact your local animal welfare society for help or information.

4. The Guardia Civil will give you a copy of the denuncia, and their copy will be given to Seprona for investigation-

5. Only Seprona will investigate

6. With your copy of the denuncia, it can be followed up later.