Ipswich family share harrowing experience of dog poisoned by a starfish on Felixstowe beach

Archie and his family on their holiday in Snowdonia last year. Picture: JACKIE GARNHAM

Archie and his family on their holiday in Snowdonia last year. Picture: JACKIE GARNHAM - Credit: Archant

A woman from Ipswich has described her family’s trauma and warned fellow pet owners after their dog ate a poisonous starfish on Felixstowe beach.

Archie almost died after eating the toxic starfish on Felixstowe beach. Picture: JACKIE GARNHAM

Archie almost died after eating the toxic starfish on Felixstowe beach. Picture: JACKIE GARNHAM - Credit: Archant

Jackie Garnham was walking her one-year-old Cockapoo, Archie, on the seafront when he grabbed the creature in his mouth.

“He was running about the pavillion area,” Mrs Garnham said.

“He picked something up and we thought: ‘Oh my gosh, that looks like a starfish.’

“We were chasing him around but he thought it was a game. It was all gone before we could get it out of his mouth.”


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Mrs Garnham called the family vet in Ipswich who said to bring Archie in as soon as possible. However the situation soon became so severe that he was fast tracked to nearby Whitworth vets in Trimley.

Archie was then transferred from vet to vet as his condition worsened.

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“He was getting too dehydrated,” Mrs Garnham said.

“They were saying this sort of thing isn’t good. His back legs were dropping and his eyes were not what they were.”

Despite the fact Archie had been sick, the poison had started to spread to other parts of his body, meaning his diaphragm, heart, and respiratory system were at risk.

Since Whitworth didn’t have the necessary equipment to keep Archie breathing, he was sent to Orwell vets in Kesgrave. Shortly after that, he was transferred to Vets Now in Melton who could watch him overnight.

“Each vet had to phone some kind of helpline first because [this condition] is so unknown at the moment,” Mrs Garnham added.

At the emergency vets, Archie was diagnosed with dehydration and ataxia – which affects the nervous system.

At this point, the family were starting to fear he wouldn’t make it. However the miracle cure came overnight, when Archie was treated with an intralipid infusion.

“That is what turned him around,” Mrs Garnham said.

“We went back in the morning at 7:20am but we didn’t think we would be taking him home. Looking at him now you would not have thought he was so ill.”

While Archie is still not 100%, Mrs Garnham said he was very lucky to survive, and wanted to warn dog walkers to watch their pets carefully while walking on the beach.

“It is so hard to see if they are eating anything, even if they are on the lead,” she said.

“It could have happened to anyone.”

She added that, while at the vets in Kesgrave, the family came across another dog which has ingested a poisonous sea creature – even though it had been kept on the lead.

“If you want your dogs to be able to run around on the beach, perhaps invest in a muzzle,” Mrs Garnham said.

Mrs Garnham kept friends and family in the know by updating a Facebook post throughout the day – which ended up being shared 1,500 times.

She emphasised that she wanted to thank everyone – both the vets for their care and expertise, and the Facebook users for their kind words and support.

“It comforted us, everyone saying he was going to get better,” she said.

“We were not expecting that. We would really like to thank people.”

Mrs Garham added that she was very proud of her sons, Bailey, 14, and George, 9, for being so brave throughout the experience.

She said: “I am really proud of how they have coped. They are so happy now.”

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