Dog walkers seek emergency advice after pets consume ‘fatty substance’ washed up on Suffolk beaches

Distressed dog owners have reported a harmful 'fatty substance' washed up on beaches across Suffolk.

Distressed dog owners have reported a harmful 'fatty substance' washed up on beaches across Suffolk. Picture: PAMELA BIDWELL/CITIZENSIDE - Credit:

A number of concerned pet owners have reported chunks of a ‘fatty substance’ harmful to dogs littering beaches from Leiston to Lowestoft.

Stephen Payne's dog Darcie had to be treated with liquid charcoal to clear the substance from her sy

Stephen Payne's dog Darcie had to be treated with liquid charcoal to clear the substance from her system. Here she has some of the charcoal around her mouth. Picture: STEPHEN PAYNE - Credit: Stephen Payne

The oily material appears to have been washed up on Suffolk’s coast by Storm Emma, which clashed with the ‘Beast from the East’ on Thursday.

The majority of dog walkers affected thought their pets had consumed palm oil, however Dr Boris Milanov, a vet at Wangford Veterinary Clinic, said he had witnessed two varieties – neither of which resembled palm oil – washed up on the beach while he was walking his bulldog, Kobi.

The first, Dr Milanov said, was a soft and greasy material, while the second resembled something waxier. Importantly, neither had the distinctive yellowish colouring of palm oil. Both, however, could still potentially be harmful to dogs.

Stephen Payne was walking his Cockapoo, Darcie, on Saturday when she ate some of the substance and had to be rushed to the emergency vets in Melton.

Finlay had a close shave when he consumed some of the 'fatty substance' on Southwold beach. Luckily,

Finlay had a close shave when he consumed some of the 'fatty substance' on Southwold beach. Luckily, he is fully recovered now. Picture: ANNIE CURTIS - Credit: ANNIE CURTIS

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He said: “We walked our dog, a three year old Cockapoo called Darcie, on Southwold beach between the end of the beach huts and the harbour, on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately she ate some of the palm oil which resulted in us taking her to the emergency vets in Melton.

“[She] was given liquid charcoal which we administered every four hours until the contents of her stomach/bowel passed as a black stool.

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“The palm oil was on the beach in significant lumps as well as in shards and smaller pieces.

“I returned to the beach this morning with a rubble sack and collected as much as I could between the harbour and beach huts. As I collected it I spoke to as many dog walkers as I could to warn them. I was told by one that significant lumps were on the beach in the area in front of the beach huts, which unfortunately I assume are still there.”

Annie Curtis had a similar scare walking her Cairn Terrier, Finlay, on Sunday morning.

She said: “Finlay ate some palm oil this morning, I had heard of the dangers and was concerned enough to ring our vet for advice this afternoon. So far, 10 hours later Fin is ok, but he only scooped a small amount before being pulled away.

“I think we’ve escaped but it could have been very different. It’s a disgrace that this hazard is polluting our beaches and endangering our pets.”

Dr Jace Palmer, one of the vets at Melton Veterinary Surgery, said anybody concerned that their pet may have consumed palm oil should ring the vet straight away, and take the animal into a nearby surgery if possible.

She added that dog owners should look out for symptoms including vomiting and diarrhoea, which could indicate pancreatitis. In some rare cases, consumption of palm oil or similar greasy and waxy substances can cause a blockage of the intenstines, which may need to be treated with surgery. Palm oil can also have a laxative effect, meaning dogs that have consumed the substance could be at risk of de-hydration.

A spokesperson for Waveney District Council said: “We have received reports of palm oil washing up on the beach at Kessingland and whilst these reports are not verified, we have advised walkers, particularly with dogs to be aware. Although palm oil is not toxic, it is a substance which can cause illness in animals if ingested in quantity.

“We are monitoring the situation and will take appropriate action to clear if required.”

Concern among dog lovers was initially sparked when a Facebook user reported something resembling whale blubber had washed up on Sizewell beach in Leiston.

Gill Fisher posted a warning on Facebook to fellow dog walkers that the they should keep their pets away from the substance, as it could make them ill if they were to eat it.

She posted: “The storm has caused a huge amount of debris to wash up on the beach and among it is are large lumps of a fatty substance that is very appealing to dogs.

“The coastguard were down there checking it out and believe it to be whale blubber (but not certain) and advised to keep dogs away from the shoreline.

“If eaten it could make your dog sick or worse.”

It comes just two months after a spate of dog deaths around the Suffolk and Norfolk coast caused by the animals eating toxic shellfish.

In January, two animals, a seven-year-old siberian husky and a golden retriever called Hattie both died in separate incidents.

Testing carried out by Eastern Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority (IFCA) confirmed that the dogs had been killed by the Paralytic Shellfish Poisioning toxin (PSP) which is thought to have come from contaminated creatures eaten by the dogs.

It is still not known where the contaminated shellfish came from but it is believed they were most likely washed up during winter storms.

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