A FAMILY has been left devastated after their dog had to be put down when it ate a white, waxy substance that had washed up on a South East Cornwall beach.
Lara Kleckham was walking her border collie-cross, Poppy, on Portwrinkle Beach, when her pet picked up and ate the substance.
The mother of three, from St Germans, said she did not realise the substance could be toxic to dogs until it was too late. It is believed to be a ball of palm oil, which has washed up on beaches across Cornwall – and has been responsible for the deaths of several dogs.
Mrs Kleckham said: "Watching a previously healthy, beloved family pet suffer in this way is very upsetting. It is more upsetting as I was unaware of the substance or of the risk to dogs.
"The whole family is very upset; she was a sweet dog and we had rescued her as a puppy. Poppy had grown up with my three children since they were babies. She was a good-natured dog. It's been weird, she had been part of the family for ten years.
"On Sunday morning, she was sick and was very subdued and would not eat."
Mrs Kleckham took Poppy to the vet last Monday where she was given antibiotics, anti-inflammatories and an anti-sickness medication in an attempt to stimulate her appetite.
"She came home but still wouldn't eat – her condition deteriorated further, so I returned to the vet on Tuesday where she was admitted to intensive care.
"Her health continued to decline and despite all efforts to save her, the vet and I decided that she should be put down on Thursday.
"She had immune haemolytic anaemia, which the vet said can result from ingesting a toxin. If I had known there was a risk to dogs I would have been vigilant – it wasn't until it was too late that I knew of the risk. I want to raise awareness of it."
Cornwall Council received new reports of the white waxy substance – which first appeared on Cornish beaches back in October 2013 – being washed up on north coast beaches from Sennen to Porth in January 2014.
The council said it has put up signs at beaches in the affected areas to inform beach users of the situation and is also providing signage to private beach owners.
The further deposits are believed to be the same substance which was confirmed as being a degraded, edible oil or fat, which is non-toxic to humans, following laboratory tests last year.
David Owens, the council's assistant head of environment, said: "Once again we are especially advising dog-owners to be vigilant. Please keep your dog on a lead as there have been reports in the past that the substance could be dangerous for dogs if they eat a large amount of it.
"Our contractors Cory are removing the substance from Cornwall Council-owned beaches which have been affected and will be providing advice to the owners of private beaches on how to dispose of the substance."
Both the council and Cory are continuing to monitor beaches for further deposits of the substance but anyone who sees deposits of it is asked to report it to the council's customer contact centre on 0300 1234 141 during office hours.