Dog owners warned as toxic sea creatures wash up on Aussie beaches

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·News Reporter
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A daily dog walk has ended in tragedy for an Adelaide man after his border collie ate one of the world's deadliest fish.

Kym Daly had just returned from Seacliff beach with his nine-year-old dog, when Scout suddenly became unwell.

“When we got home she vomited and I thought that was the end of it,” he told Nine News.

"I thought she vomited up anything nasty she had eaten.”

But within the hour, Scout had died

“It was so quick,” an emotional Mr Daly said. “It was hard.”

He was unaware that his beloved pet had eaten a pufferfish that had washed up in seaweed.

Border Collie Scout
Nine-year-old Scout, a rescue border collie, died just an hour after eating a pufferfish in Adelaide. Source: Nine News

1200 times more poisonous than cyanide

Ranked as one of the most poisonous species in the world, the unassuming pufferfish contains a toxin called tetrodotoxin on its skin and in its internal organs.

The toxin, which is also found in blue-ringed octopus, is about 1200 times more poisonous than cyanide, according to the Animal Emergency Service.

With enough poison to kill 30 people, the pufferfish, whether alive or dead, can be fatal to both humans and dogs if eaten.

Pufferfish washed up on sand
Pufferfish have been found washed up on beaches from Sydney (left) to Perth (right). Source: Facebook

While even just chewing or licking it can cause paralysis of muscles to the point where they are unable to breathe.

A seven-year-old Staffordshire bull terrier in South East Queensland is lucky to be alive after a near death experience with a pufferfish.

Maci had been with her owner on the Maroochy River when she suddenly started vomiting, became very weak and lost control of her bladder.

After a mercy dash to the vet, Maci deteriorated quickly and required four and half minutes of CPR to bring her back, according to a Facebook post from the Animal Emergency Service.

Maci intubated (left) and sitting up (right)
Maci came close to losing her life after a brush with a pufferfish in South East Queensland. Source: Facebook

The vet soon discovered that she was suffering from tetrodotoxin toxicity.

Fortunately, within 24 hours Maci was able to breath on her own again and made a full recovery.

“If animals are ventilated so they can maintain their oxygenation, the neuromuscular blockade will resolve within 36 hours,” Dr Georgina Child, a neurology specialist at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital, told Yahoo News Australia.

But she warns the toxin has been known to kill animals “within minutes”, and says any animal suffering symptoms should be rushed to the nearest vet.

“They may often vomit and become weak very quickly, so have difficulty standing,” Dr Child said.

“It affects their ability to move and then, depending on the amount of toxin absorbed, it can rapidly progress to them being unable to breathe.”

Pet owners across the country are being urged to keep a close eye on their dogs at the beach, with recent sightings of washed up pufferfish from WA to NSW.

One man from Perth took to Facebook on Tuesday to share his find, a “nice fat pufferfish left high on the beach after storms.”

While on Sydney’s Manly beach a woman photographed a number of washed up sea creatures, including a pufferfish.

There have been 57 species of pufferfish recorded from Australian waters, according to the Museum of Tropical Queensland.

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