EATING SEAWEED IS KILLING OUR DOGS; Vet's warning as death toll rockets.
SOARING numbers of dogs are being killed in the hot summer weather by eating seaweed.
Vet Glen Watson has seen a spike in cases of stricken animals that need emergency lifesaving operations after munching on dried-up seaweed on beaches.
They are left in agony as the seaweed expands, blocking off the blood supply to the intestines before rupturing them.
About a third of dogs who eat dried-up seaweed will die.
Glen, a partner at the Links Veterinary Group in East Lothian and a vet for nearly 25 years, warned pet owners to keep a close eye on their mutts.
He said: "Since the better weather arrived, we have been presented with a dozen cases of gut impaction following ingestion of seaweed.
"In every case, the unfortunate owners have brought their poor dog into one of our surgeries following an incredibly rapid deterioration from robust health to death's door within a few hours.
"As the tide recedes and leaves the weed exposed on the sand, it very quickly dehydrates and shrinks.
"Leaves as thick as a newspaper become as thin as a single page, and stems as wide as an arm can appear like a child's finger.
"Unfortunately, they tend to be swallowed without adequate chewing. Once in the moist environment of the gut, they respond by swelling and becoming lodged.
"The intestinal wall suffers first bruising and then loses its blood supply as the swelling contents exert a tourniquet effect and cut off the blood supply.
"Inevitably, the wall becomes damaged and sooner rather than later will burst, releasing the digestive juices into the body."
The first signs are those of any upset tummy, such as vomiting, diarrhoea and loss of appetite.
It quickly leads to lethargy, depression and weakness, with shaking or trembling at the slightest effort to move.
By that time, the dog needs urgent medical help.
Glen, from Gullane, East Lothian, normally deals with dogs who are walked on beaches from Dunbar to Portobello but believes the problem is widespread.
Normal seaweeds such as kelp, mayweed, bladderwrack and sea oak are all to blame.
But Glen says it's up to dog owners to keep their pets safe.
He added: "It's likely that summer, with more daylight, enhances the ability of seaweed to make and store nutrition, and this may make them more tasty to dogs.
"Beached seaweed and dogs do not mix, and if your pet takes any undue interest in some harmlesslooking fronds you should immediately intervene and drag them off to safer sands."
DROP IT J Dogs find it tasty but eating dried-up seaweed could kill
CONCERN J Vet Glen told owners to watch out