The Mediterranean coast is invaded cyclically, every three to four years, by plagues of jellyfish. 500 different species of these unpleasant creatures inhabit the Mediterranean…
The causes for this proliferation are varied and all of them have been caused by human intervention: overfishing of jellyfish-eating species, increased sea temperature and increased urbanization of the coastline. This last factor produces a greater amount of discharges into the marine environment and therefore of organic matter, as well as the reduction of the natural barrier of fresh water that runs parallel to the coast, which causes an increase in the salinity of the sea.
General characteristics of jellyfish:
Jellyfish belong to the cnidarians group, a word that comes from the Greek knide, which means nettle. In this group, we find polyps and jellyfish, which are free-living and have tentacles pointing downwards. Their danger lies in the existence of stinging cells, called cnidoblasts or nematocytes.
They cause lesions ranging from a slight stinging of the skin to painful wounds or even death, depending on the species of jellyfish responsible for the lesion.
Toxicity is influenced by several factors:
– Health and age of the patient.
– Weight of the animal.
– Surface area is exposed to the sting and the amount of toxin injected.
– Thickness of the skin in exposed areas and sting site.
– Species of jellyfish.
Dogs often suffer from jellyfish stings.
However not only humans are easy targets for jellyfish but also dogs because of their curious and playful nature. Stings on them are as painful as on humans.
In principle, they are more protected by their fur and their plantar and palmar pads, which are hard, impermeable and quite resistant, but there are locations where they are more prone to suffer certain types of lesions: truffle and oral cavity, inner side of the ears, abdomen and in the inguinal region (where the hair is less abundant).
Symptoms following a bite are pain, erythema, edema and itching. In some cases systemic complications such as agitation, tiredness, “crying” and respiratory difficulties (dyspnea) may occur.
First aid in the case of a jellyfish sting… go to your veterinarian!
The emergency treatment of a jellyfish sting has a series of steps:
- We must try to keep the dog from scratching and keep him as still as possible so that the venom does not spread. Licking should also be avoided.
- Apply ice for 15 minutes, avoiding direct contact with the animal’s skin (we should wrap it with a towel or a plastic bag). We pursue an effect of local anesthesia by cold and, in this way, we reduce the pain.
- Examine the skin and hair for remains of the jellyfish or its tentacles.
- Remove them (always wearing gloves as it can still sting) and rinse with saltwater. Simultaneously, carefully scrape the area with, for example, a credit card. We should not use fresh water or rub the skin of the animal since these two actions favor the discharge of nematocysts.
- Wash with a 5-10% acetic acid solution (vinegar) for 10 to 15 minutes. Acid solutions inactivate the discharge of nematocysts, although they do not eliminate the pain.
- Dry the skin and visit their clinic or call in any case in order to apply an appropriate therapy to avoid as much as possible and alleviate the allergic reaction.
Remember El Port Veterinary Clinic is in Altea in case of emergency or anything your pet may need. You can book an appointment through their website or by calling +34 966 880 612. The clinic is open from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. from Monday to Friday, while on Saturdays they can attend you from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
For more information, please visit their website and find them on social media.
El Port Veterinary Clinic
Calle La Mar, 159, Altea – 03590 (Alicante)
Phone: +34 966 880 612