Pet Threats and Animal Risks

Insects, snakes and other things that may threaten the health of dogs and other pets living in Germany...

While threats to domestic animals are rare in Germany, as with most mainland European countries, there still exist some potential dangers to pets that are living there. This section provides information on snakes, ticks and other animal nuisances, as well as details of how best to protect your pet.

Germany has a number of specialist poison centres, principally for human benefit and research but also with knowledge of poisons in general.

If an animal has been poisoned consult a vet in the first instance.

Ticks (Zecken)

In addition to protecting dogs against fleas and parasites, it is strongly advisable to protect them against ticks. Humans are also under threat from ticks. They are commonly found in grass, woodland areas and bushes. As soon as they attach themselves they penetrate the skin and draw blood. The tick should be removed with the head intact, there is a tick removal tool for this purpose (Zeckerzange) sold by most vets and pet shops. Check animals regularly for ticks. Anti-tick collars are available for repelling ticks (Zeckenhalsband). If left untreated ticks can cause potentially severe illness such as Babesiosis and Ehrlichiosis. Tick bite disease disease can be fatal if ignored.


As with much of Europe, there are just one or two species of adder and viper that might bite other animals. An animal that has been bitten by a snake should receive medical care as quickly as possible and will normally recover.

For more information on poisonous snakes:

Processionary Caterpillars

The oak processionary caterpillar (Thaumetopoea processionea Lepidoptera), related to the pine processionary caterpillar, is found in several European countries. It usually lives in oak forests or on single-standing oak trees. Caterpillars are usually three to four centimetres long, brown and hairy. At the start of spring the caterpillars come out of round, white, fuzzy nests built in trees (normally property owners will burn these nests if they see them) and travel down the tree and across the ground in single file, sometimes stopping in writhing circles. This phenomenon will continue well into the summer.

These caterpillars are extremely dangerous as they "burn" the flesh of any animal, child or person that touches them. A small animal can die from the burn on contact. If a pet comes in to contact with these caterpillars it is advisable to seek veterinary assistance immediately.

Other Rarer Diseases

Recent medical reports in Germany have highlighted an increasing incidence of humans and animals being infected by what is known as Lepidopterism, an allergic reaction to moths and butterflies, or their larva. Symptoms include serious dermatitis, conjunctivitis, and breathing difficulties. If you suspect your pet may be infected, consult a vet.

Another possible problem (although it's usually seen far more in Mediterranean countries) is Canine Leishmaniasis.