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St Anne's Veterinary Group Blog

» Escape to the Beach - Part two

Jellyfish have been in the news recently with a dog being stung in Scotland this month. Dogs are always curious of jellyfish whether dead or alive, but did you know they can still sting you even when they’re dead? Usually this sting causes pain and swelling when they touch the skin or mucous membranes. Over the last 25 years the VPIS has dealt with 182 cases of dogs coming into contact with jellyfish.

If a tentacle is still stuck to your pet then it’s best to remove it with a towel or something by pulling it rather than wiping it off. Wash out with sea water, not fresh water and make sure you don’t let it touch your skin. Do not rub the sting area with sand or anything else as this can spread the sting and may introduce infection too. DO NOT PEE ON IT! We’ve all heard this old wives tale and even seen it on Friends, however urinating on a jellyfish sting is not going to help and will probably just cause an infection. You may also observe licking or pawing at the affected area and difficulty breathing. Dogs that have been stung usually require pain relief, antihistamines and steroids. Sometimes vomiting and diarrhoea are also seen. The cases are usually not serious and only very occasionally the dogs can go into shock, this can obviously also depend on the breed of jellyfish.

Other beach items to be aware of are seaweed’s, these are not actually poisonous but eating large quantities can lead to salt water poisoning (which also stands for dogs playing in the sea with balls etc). Although it seems like a low risk event the VPIS have dealt with around 20 serious cases in recent years.

Dogs raiding picnics may come across some cool packs especially the gel ones, thinking they could be fun to play with. Many people panic thinking they contain anti-freeze, but they’re actually of low toxicity and should need treatment. Usually only some mild vomiting and diarrhoea are seen.

Dogs should be fine if they ingest a small amount of sun cream, maybe experiencing some gastric upset at most. Barbeques are a common holiday event (if the weather permits!) and so make sure your dog is unable to get to the BBQ, to the meat, heat or lighting fuel too.

Something we also see on a regular basis is dogs that have been eating stones on the beach and that later need to be surgically removed. If your dog is a stone eater it is best to get them to wear a basket muzzle to protect them from eating things they shouldn’t!
Prevention is always better than cure and no one wants a fun day out at the beach to be stressful but just being aware and vigilant can save a lot of trouble!


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