immagine I forasacchi, perché sono pericolosi e come rimuoverli

Foxtails, why are they dangerous and how should we remove them

Foxtails represent a great danger for our dogs, as they often tend to slip into the skin, ears or nose, causing quite serious consequences. So let's see why they are dangerous and how they can be safely removed.

“Foxtails” have spikelets that are formed when the wheat grows along peripheral roads, in the countryside or in parks. Foxtails are practically a constant danger, precisely because they can be found everywhere.

Why are foxtails dangerous?

Foxtails have a particularly pointed shape and are also very rigid, so they tend to slip easily anywhere. The entire surface of the ears, in fact, is covered by a series of very pointed quills, oriented in the opposite direction to the direction of the stem. For this reason, every time we touch them, they can hook onto clothes, skin or fur, remaining stuck until they are removed manually.

forasacco bocca gengiva cane

Who among us have experiences this plant stuck to our clothes? Let's think about what happens to our animals when they come into contact with these deadly plants.

It only takes a moment and the foxtail is stuck in the skin, fur, paws, ears, nose, eyes, foreskin and even in the animals throat if he ingests it. In addition, if we think about how bad that spikelet stuck on our pants hurts, imagine how bad it would hurt if they were stuck on the animals body.

The consequences are not only related to pain and discomfort that the foxtail can cause. In fact, if they are not removed promptly and correctly, they can create inflammation and consequently lead to infections that are more serious. In these cases, we notice it because in the point where they are stuck we can see a reddish mark, rather raised and, by removing the foxtail, a real hole will appear on the skin, from which blood or pus can leak out.

The problems become even more relevant if the foxtails are located in very delicate locations, such as the nose, eyes, ears and throat. These spikes, in fact, in addition to damaging the area, can also cause serious injuries to local organs, for example by puncturing the eardrum or reaching the lungs and stomach, where they would get stuck creating serious consequences.

How to remove them

Our advice is to remove only those resting on the animal's skin, without being totally stuck yet. The main risk, in fact, is to break them, leaving a part of it inside the ear, nose or skin that can inflame or infect the whole area.

cane controllare orecchie forasacchi zecche

When we are taking care of rather sensitive parts of the body we should absolutely take the animal to a vet, who knows the right techniques to remove them and can intervene if they break. It will also be able to identify any consequences produced by the foxtail in the animals body.

In any case, we should always try to prevent the dog or cat from getting filled with these spikelets. We should avoid places where we already know for sure we will find them. Furthermore, when we are returning from our daily walk, let's check the entire body of the animal, removing any foxtails that have rested on the hair which might then stick inside afterwards.

If we see that the dog starts coughing, sneezing or shaking his ears, we immediately check if there are any foxtails in that area, and remove the ones that are slightly stuck on the skin. Same goes for the fingertips, another site frequently affected by the problem. The spikelets might get stuck in that area too, so lets make sure we check the fingertips area as well.

For dogs with long ears, such as Cockers and Basset Hounds, it may be a good idea to wrap an elastic headband or a light scarf around the head, which keeps the ears suspended and protected.


immagine Il cioccolato è tossico per il cane?

Dogs and cat eating chocolate! is it toxic?

Some argue that this is just a rumour, others categorically refuse to feed this to out four-legged friend. We speak of course of chocolate, one of the most toxic foods for dogs and cats, which unfortunately, not all owners recognize as such. Let's find out why chocolate and cocoa are dangerous for animals and what are the symptoms and therapies in case of ingestion.

Theobromine, the real responsible

Chocolate, tea, coffee and cola-based drinks help us stay awake and active immediately after ingesting them,we now consider them as our daily "fuel". This effect is due to the presence of alkaloid substances - called "methylxanthines" - different for each of these foods, but which have the same properties in common. In particular, we find caffeine in coffee, theophylline in tea and theobromine in chocolate.

The effects of xanthines on the body are mainly associated with:

  • Excitement and hyperactivity
  • Increased gastrointestinal motility (possible diarrhea and vomiting)
  • Increased heart function (accelerated beat)
  • Muscle contraction
  • Increased diuresis (increased urine production)

All this occurs both in humans and in animals. The big difference, however, lies in the different metabolism - that is, the ability to eliminate a substance introduced into the body - between the various species. The dog and cat, in fact, disposes  theobromine very slowly compared to us, so its effects are more lasting. To this, we must also add the ingested dose; if for us a small square of chocolate often fails to even give us the effects we have just listed, it can even be fatal for our small animals, precisely because of the imposing action on the body.

In addition to the direct effect of theobromine, we must also consider that chocolate is often enriched with important quantities of sugars and fats, which of course are not good for our four-legged friends, increasing the risk of gastrointestinal disorders, pancreatitis and diabetes.

As for the cat, on the other hand, generally his demanding and picky palate in these cases is very useful. The sweet taste, in fact, is not very appreciated by felines, who in most cases disdain chocolate and various sweets.

In what quantities can it be toxic?

In the field of toxic substances, each potentially dangerous food is associated with a dose - Lethal Dose 50 or DL50 - capable of causing death in half of the animals that have taken it. For theobromine, we speak of a dose equal to 300 mg per kg of body weight of the animal, as regards the dog, 200 mg / kg for the cat.

cane cioccolato velenoso tossico

Theobromine is contained in high quantities in the raw cocoa bean, but its content tends to decrease during the manufacturing processes that will lead to our beloved chocolate bar. Therefore, we can say that on average there is a variable quantity based on the type of chocolate. On average, milk and white chocolate contain very little theobromine, because the percentage of cocoa compared to the other ingredients is minimal. On the contrary, dark chocolate is certainly the most dangerous, because it contains the highest percentage. Let's see in detail the content of theobromine in a 100 gram bar of chocolate, according to the different varieties:

  • Cocoa beans: 1.1-4.3 grams
  • Dark chocolate: 0.45-1.6 grams (on average it contains 70% cocoa)
  • Milk chocolate: 0.15-0.22 grams (on average it contains 30% cocoa)
  • White chocolate: 0.0009 grams (practically only traces)

At this point, we can calculate an estimate the dose of chocolate that can cause a toxic effect on the dog. For a small animal, for example a 3 kg Chihuahua, about 50 grams of excellent quality dark chocolate are sufficient, while for a 10 kg dog about 180 grams of the same variety will be needed. Instead, if we consider milk chocolate, clearly the intoxication will be caused by a much greater quantity, approximately 300 grams of product for each kg of body weight of the dog.

Another factor to consider is the size of the dog. It is clear that small dogs are much more sensitive to theobromine intoxication than large dogs, with the same quantity of product ingested.

The symptoms of chocolate intoxication

In principle, it is not said that a small piece of milk chocolate will cause great problems for our dog. In these cases, in fact, the same recommendations that our mothers reserved for us when we were young could apply. After eating a little more, we would certainly have had a great stomach ache, with possible vomiting or diarrhoea, which resolved in a short time.

A different matter is that of intoxication by higher doses of theobromine. Symptoms typically appear 2-4 hours after ingestion. In a first phase they include:

  • Agitation
  • Hyperactivity
  • Polyuria (increased urine production)

Subsequently, the situation tends to get worse, with:

  • Tremor
  • Irregular heart beat
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Strong excitement
  • Temperature increase
  • Accelerated breathing
  • Low pressure
  • Heart attacks
  • Seizures

If the quantities are excessive, serious internal bleeding can occur, which will lead to death of the animal in a short time.


The first thing to do, if your dog has ingested chocolate, is to contact the veterinarian immediately. Based on the quantity and type of chocolate, he can recommend an appropriate remedy. In any case, therapy should be timely, preferably within 2, maximum 4 hours form the assumption, or before the theobromine enters the circulation. Within the first 2 hours we can stimulate vomiting ourselves, to facilitate the elimination of chocolate, by giving the dog a solution made with one part of hydrogen peroxide and two parts of natural water.

If the amount ingested is very high or if 2 hours have already passed, we will have to run to the veterinarian, who will treat the intoxication by targeting the individual symptoms caused by poisoning, since there is no real antidote for theobromine. Treatment involves:

  • Gastric lavage
  • Emetics (drugs to stimulate vomiting)
  • Antiemetics (if the dog vomits profusely)
  • Activated carbon (absorbs the toxic substance)
  • Phlebotherapy to supplement lost fluids
  • Tranquilizers (benzodiazepines or barbiturates to reduce agitation, tremors and convulsions)
  • Antiarrhythmics (to regularize the heart beat)

cane malato intossicazione cioccolato

In most cases, if we manage to intervene promptly, our friend will be safe within a few hours of treatment.

Useful tip: if your dog accidentally ate chocolate, consult this site to calculate the risk depending on the weight of the animal and the quantity ingested.

immagine Cosa fare in caso di punture di api, vespe e zanzare nel cane e nel gatto

Bee, wasp and mosquito stings in dogs and cats

With the arrival of beautiful hot days we are all in a happier mood, even our pets. However, many dangers tend to awaken in the warmer months, putting a strain on the serenity and health of the dog and cat. In this article, we will mainly talk about insect bites in our animals, first of all bees, wasps and finally mosquitoes, which can create a significant nuisances and unpleasant consequences for their health. 

Bees and wasps

As strange as it may seem, animals are really dangerously attracted to bees and wasps. The rather loud hum, the bright colours and their curious shape are particularly inviting for dogs and cats, who often try to chase them, capturing them with their legs or even with their mouths.

This can become a dangerous hobby for them as bees and wasps can easily sting them. Although similar, these two insects belonging to the Hymenoptera have some differences.
pungiglione ape vespa

 The bees have a more stocky body, with black and dark yellow stripes, tending towards ochre, covered with thick hair. The wasps, on the other hand, are more elongated, with a smooth body and black and bright yellow stripes, almost golden. Their nutrition is also different, since bees feed almost exclusively on the sugary substances present on flowers and wasps feed on other insects as well (as they have proper teeth).

Both are equipped with a threatening stinger at the end of the abdomen, with which they sting the victim, releasing the poison produced by a specific gland connected to this spike. Again, we find differences. The wasps have a smooth sting, which they easily extract from the victims, whilst the bees sting is pinned and notched near the tip, like the plastic ties that are put into the walls to insert the screws inside, which are made to go in but not to exit.

 That's why bees are said to die after stinging someone; the sting remains stuck in the victim's skin, so when they try to move away, the sting literally tears from their body, creating a serious injury. However, the poison present in the sting continues to be released into the victim, because the gland that produces it remains inside it. The substances present in the poison triggers a very strong inflammation, which make the blood vessels widen and begin to "lose" water outwards, causing swelling, pain, itching and burning of the area.

We assume that unless the animal is allergic to bee or wasp poison, it will not die after being stung. In any case, as many of us will have had the misfortune to discover, the sting really hurts and brings the affected area to swell considerably. From this point of view, we can imagine what consequences a dog or cat who is stung on the nose or ingests a bee or wasp can face. The part swells, occluding the respiratory tract until the animal can no longer breathe.

If we see that the animal complains, looks at itself and tries to lick or bite a point on the body, such as the back, the side or the legs, we should immediately check the area. Does it appear swollen and red? We must immediately apply ice to reduce swelling.

cane puntura di ape vespa allergia muso gonfio

If we see the sting ourselves, we can try to remove it, but only if we do not have the opportunity to reach the nearest veterinarian in a few minutes. We must avoid using tweezers to grab and pull the stinger. Tightening it will only squeeze the poison inside it, so let's just use something stiff, like a cardboard or the tip of a knife to detach it as if it were a splinter.

If, on the other hand, we notice that the animal shows the symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (increased salivation, vomiting, itching, swelling of the eyes, tongue and throat, difficulty breathing) we must immediately run to the vet, without wasting time.

The best antidote for bee and wasp stings is cortisone, which must however be administered by the veterinarian in the dose and in the most suitable way for our dog / cat. The only possible alternative is to contact the veterinarian by phone, asking him how to intervene whilst waiting to reach the clinic.

For this reason, it is essential to always have a first aid kit with life-saving drugs on hand for our four-legged friend.


Mosquito bites are a problem that we are forced to endure throughout the summer, constantly scratching and filling ourselves with lotions and repellent sprays. For our dogs and cats bites can be just as annoying, forcing them to scratch constantly to relieve itching.

Furthermore, some animals may be allergic to the mosquito bite and in particular to its saliva. In these cases, the symptoms can vary from a rather intense itching, with swelling and redness of the area, which continues even for several days, up to real dermatitis, with crusts and dandruff. Anaphylactic mosquito shock due to the bite is rather rare, but the animal can still cause serious injuries in an attempt to relieve itching, scratching or licking itself.

cane zanzara pappataci puntura

 Another aspect that should not be overlooked of mosquito bites concerns the diseases that these can transmit. We speak above all of the much feared Filariasis, which mainly affects dogs, but in countries like ours, where the number of mosquitoes is truly impressive, it can also involve cats.

Cardiopulmonary filariasis is an infestation caused by round and white worms, called "Nematodes", precisely the Dirofilaria immitis. If a mosquito stings an infected animal, it will not only suck the blood but also the larvae of this parasite, which will grow inside it for several days, and then be inoculated into the blood of other animals. These worms then reach the heart, where they grow up to 15 centimeters in length, creating serious problems for the cardiovascular system and lungs.

Contrary to popular belief, Leishmaniasis is not transmitted by mosquitoes, but by a very similar insect, the sandfly, which can carry Leishmania infantum, a very dangerous parasite. Symptoms may appear even after a long time, and include: dermatitis, dandruff, distorted nails, injury to the ears, hair loss, weight loss and nosebleeds, up to severe kidney problems.

To protect our four-legged friends, we can use repellent products based on natural substances, such as Neem oil, in the form of a collar, spot-on or lotions to be applied to the whole body of the animal according to the instructions on the package. For the dog, it is possible to use multi purposes pesticides, which protect against fleas, ticks and mosquitoes. Remember that these products are toxic for cats, so we must always check that they do not contain permethrin before using them.

immagine Piante tossiche e velenose per il cane e il gatto

Toxic and poisonous plants for cats and dogs

Animals are very curious, especially when they are still puppies. It may happen that they ignore most of the quality foods we offer them, and then choose the leaves of our favourite plant as an appetizing snack. Some of these, however, are really very dangerous for our four-legged friends. Here are the toxic and poisonous plants for dogs and cats.

The most common toxic plants

We speak above all of the plants commonly found in our homes. Among the main ones we find:

  • Holly: the rounded and bright red berries make holly one of the most common Christmas plants, together with the Christmas star (see below). Potentially, all parts of Holly can be toxic, but in particular berries and leaves, which are rich in irritating saponins and substances that reduce the presence of oxygen in the blood. Ingestion mainly leads to vomiting, diarrhoea, increased salivation and abdominal pain, up to coma and death;
  • Azalea: the ingestion of azalea leaves can cause serious gastrointestinal irritations, which are manifested by vomiting, diarrhea and increased salivation, but also by neurological symptoms, leading to weakness and drowsiness, up to coma and death;
  • khalanchoe: the ingestion of the sheet pile is capable of causing gastrointestinal irritation and serious heart problems, with possible arrhythmias;
  • Cyclamen: the roots are the most dangerous part of this plant. Ingestion causes very intense vomiting and gastrointestinal irritation, which can lead to death if they are not treated in time;

    piante tossiche velenose cane gatto

  • Dieffenbachia: also commonly known as Mother-in-law, Dieffenbachia is widespread in our homes. If ingested, but also only in contact with its leaves, it can cause serious irritation, often similar to allergic reactions. Inside, in fact, there are dangerous substances, such as oxalic acid or calcium oxalates, capable of causing vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation, abdominal pain, irritation and swelling of the mouth and all the digestive system , tiredness, depression;

  • Ivy: very common in gardens, if ingested it can mainly cause gastrointestinal irritations, with vomiting and diarrhea, while at higher doses it can also cause neurological, cardiac and respiratory problems;

  • Lily: some varieties are toxic to cats, such as Lilium Candidum, Tigrinum, Regale, Orientalis, Longiflorum, Speciosum, Lancifolium and Hemerocallis, whilst the climbing lily appears to be harmless. Two hours after ingestion, it causes gastrointestinal symptoms and weakness, while after several days the effects of a very serious kidney failure begin to appear, with increased thirst and tiredness;

  • Thrush: causes irritation to stomach and intestines, as well as heart damage;

  • Narcissus: this beautiful plant with yellow or white bell-shaped flowers can cause intoxication problems if the animal ingests the bulb or the water in which the flowers were placed. In addition to gastrointestinal irritation, it can cause serious heart problems, lowering blood pressure and slowing your heart rate. It is generally not lethal;

  • Oleander: the toxicity of the oleander is one of the best known. All parts of the plant, if ingested, can cause gastrointestinal irritations, heart problems, hypothermia - or lower body temperature - and in some cases even the death of the animal;

  • Castor: the most sensitive dogs to ingestion the castor oil or seeds will exhibit a sharp increase in body temperature within 24 hours, accompanied by vomiting, thirst, diarrhea, colic and death in 2-3 days.

  •  Christmas star: common name of Poinsettia or Euphorbia pulcherrima. It is a plant very present in most of our homes, especially during the Christmas period, because of its bright red leaves, which are well suited to the atmosphere of the holidays. If ingested, the Poinsettia is capable of causing serious gastrointestinal irritations, which are manifested by vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation and abdominal pain. Intoxication generally does not cause very serious damage, when compared to other dangerous plants;

  • Tulip: the tulip bulb causes vomiting, diarrhea, increased salivation, up to heart problems, tiredness, felling and convulsions. Particular attention should be paid especially if the animal has a tendency to dig holes in the garden.

Other plants that mainly cause gastrointestinal symptoms include:
cane mangia tulipani

  • Beautiful at night
  • Caladium
  • Ficus
  • Philodendron
  • Wisteria
  • Horse chestnut
  • Iris
  • Monstera
  • Thrush
  • Ortensia
  • Pothos
  • Bird of Paradise
  • Mistletoe

Perhaps not everyone knows, but among the plants toxic to animals, Nicotiana tabacum - the common cigarette tobacco - and Cannabis sativa, also known as Marijuana, one of the most common substances, should be included. Intoxication occurs mainly with the ingestion of the leaves and flowers of the plant, rarely through the inhalation of smoke.

Cannabis sativa contains particular active substances on the brain, normally looked for by those who use it for recreational purposes. The effects above all include weakness, drowsiness, tachycardia, urinary and faecal incontinence, often alternating with excitement and aggression. In most cases the effects disappear within 24-72 hours.

Tobacco is rich in nicotine, a substance that acts in a very particular way on the nervous system. Less than an hour after the ingestion of tobacco, the animal shows signs of hyperactivity, is restless, breathing becomes faster and may begin to lose saliva from the mouth. Vomiting is always present, especially if the ingested dose is low, while when it is high, it can be accompanied by more serious symptoms, up to convulsions and coma.

What to do in case of intoxication

If you have witnessed the ingestion of the plant with your own eyes, immediately take the dog or cat to another room. Clearly, the first thing to do is to contact your veterinarian, telling him which plant it is. Then rely on his instructions or take him immediately to his clinic.

One of the most important strategies in case of ingestion of plants and toxic substances is to make the animal vomit. The strategies for achieving this effect are different, starting with hydrogen peroxide or salt. In any case, it is good to strictly follow the veterinarian's instructions. If you do not have the opportunity to go to the nearest clinic or clinic within a few minutes, contact him by phone and ask how you could intervene in the meantime.

We remind you to avoid the administration of milk, because, contrary to popular opinion, it is not the ideal antidote to any type of intoxication. On the contrary, it can even promote the absorption of some fat-soluble toxic substances, that is, those that dissolve better in fats.


immagine Il morso di vipera e altri serpenti nel cane e gatto: sintomi e rimedi

Snake bites on dogs and cats: symptoms and remedies

Dogs and cats who live outdoors have a great time when they have the opportunity to hunt insects and small animals, which is generally not a problem for the health of our four-legged friends, unless we are referring to poisonous snakes, like the dreaded viper. How do you recognize this snake and what are the immediate symptoms and remedies in case of a bite?

Grass snake or poisonous snake?

Most of us are horrified at the thought of finding a lizard in the house, so let alone how we might react to a snake. In these cases, our mind immediately begins to think of the most catastrophic consequences.

In fact, unless we are on holiday in the jungle or near a zoo, it is very difficult that one of these dreaded creatures could end up in our garden by mistake. Usually, in fact, those crawling animals collected here and there by our cat are simply grass snakes.

However, we must not exclude the risk of a poisonous snakebite, a far more dangerous one than the common country snake. That's why it's important to know how to distinguish these two reptiles.

In peripheral areas we can often find two types of harmless snakes: grass snakes and rat snakes.

The garden snake (Natrix natrix) is a dark green or brown colour, with a characteristic yellow collar in the part just behind the head. In fact, the common name of this snake is also "collar snake". The dimensions can vary from a few centimetres, for the younger ones, up to even 2 meters in the swampy areas.

The rat snake (Hierophis viridiflavus or Coluber viridiflavus) on the other hand is generally black, interspersed with thin yellow-green streaks, whilst the whole lower part is clear. The dimensions are similar to those of the grass snake, although they usually remain within 120-130 centimetres

vipera denti veleno

The case of the viper (Vipera aspis) is different, as it is the only poisonous snake in Italy. Here are the characteristics that we must keep in mind to distinguish it from grass and rat snakes:

  • Squat body, which widens in the central part;
  • Thin tail, well distinct from the rest of the body;
  • Triangular and pointed head, facing upwards;
  • Eyes squashed, with narrow and vertical pupil;
  • Pointed and clearly visible teeth.

The color is not a distinctive feature, because the vipers can take on variable coluors from grey to brown, up to reddish, depending on the soil in which they live. The dimensions are rather small compared to the maximum dimensions of the other two snakes, since they do not exceed 94 centimetres.

The viper bite

Vipers have tiny glands at the bottom of the palate, called venom fangs, precisely because they produce and contain the poison, which can be released through small ducts located in the teeth. The poison is very dangerous, in some cases even lethal.

If the viper has bitten our dog or cat, we can notice it due to the presence of two small holes with a distance of about 1 centimetre from each other.

The symptoms of viper bite include:

  • Swelling of the bitten part, which becomes red or bluish;
  • Painfulness of the area, whereby the animal moves away or tends to bite us;
  • Presence of small red dots around the bite, called "petechiae" or real bruises;
  • Gums and other pale coloured mucous membranes;
  • Weakness and difficulty walking;
  • Tremors and chills of cold;
  • Loss of blood;
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.

The final and lethal consequences of the viper bite appear when the poison has compromised the functionality of the kidney and liver.

How to intervene in the event of a bite

The first thing to do is to rush to the vet as soon as possible. It is clear that in some cases time can become a precious weapon, so it may be necessary to intervene alone.

  1. Immediately disinfect the clamped part with hydrogen peroxide. The use of alcohol is absolutely prohibited, which can aggravate the danger of the poison even more;
  2. We keep the animal still, as far as possible, because the movement can favor the spread of the poison inside the blood vessels of the rest of the body;
  3. Apply something very cold on the wound, possibly ice or cold water, to stop the swelling;
  4. We bandage the upper part of the bite with a tissue or band that is not too tight to slow the spread of the poison.

morso di vipera cane

These are only the preliminary operations, essential to save time before reaching the vet. Do not wait unnecessarily for the situation to improve on its own, because most likely it will not, it will continue to get worse. The veterinarian will be able to intervene on the symptoms by administering the anti-viper serum if normal therapies do not work.

What we absolutely must not do is:

  • Suck the bitten area;
  • Cut the skin around the bite;
  • Keep the bitten part raised;
  • Use very tight tourniquets;
  • Use alcohol to disinfect the area.

How to prevent encounters with vipers

Vipers are generally more dangerous in spring. In any case, these are not aggressive animals under normal conditions. This means that if they are not annoyed or threatened, they will not attack. This aspect can be useful for us, of course, but not for our four-legged friends, who often cannot resist the temptation to chase everything that moves around.

For this reason, the only thing we can do is try to reduce the chances of running into a viper. We can therefore avoid too isolated peripheral places, especially in the open countryside. If we see a viper, we must try to stay calm. Let's move away slowly, without making too much noise, returning along the busiest street. Any abrupt movement by us or by our dog could trigger the viper in our direction.

If, on the other hand, the dog has already encountered the snake and we are trying to call him back home, use a stick to repeatedly hit the ground. The vibrations will make the viper escape.