Horror dog injury highlights ‘very common’ hazard at Aussie beaches

The incident sparked a vet to warn of a number of little-known beach dangers.

A pet owner has vowed to never take her dogs to the beach again after her Labrador ended up with a nasty injury caused by a fishing hook.

Local resident Fay was at Horse Shoe Beach, Newcastle's designated dog beach when the fish hook became lodged in her dog’s tongue. “It happened so quickly,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

The hook double-pierced the tongue of the animal, named Eccles, and required an urgent trip to the vet last week, sparking a warning to other pet owners. Fay said the dog had to have general anaesthetic to remove the hook and is on antibiotics to minimise infection.

Despite visiting the beach for over 20 years incident-free, she now fears taking her pets to the popular fishing spot. “I will no longer be taking my dogs to any beaches for fear this could happen again,” she said.

Eccles the labrador with a fish hook caught in his tongue after a visit to the dog beach.
Eccles the labrador had a fish hook caught in his tongue after a visit to the dog beach. Source: Facebook

Fish hooks 'very common' danger

Sharing the ordeal on social media, Fay was inundated with messages from Aussies who had similar experiences with their dogs at the beach. "This happened to my dog two weeks ago," said one woman, sharing an X-ray image of a fish hook in her pet's stomach. "Happened to us as well," another said.

Dr Tim Hopkins of the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH) told Yahoo that fish hooks can be incredibly “distressing” to pets as well as their owners and are unfortunately “very common” across beaches where there are “lots of lovely fishing areas”.

“The vast majority of fishermen and women are responsible and conscious of the effects that their tools can leave on domestic pets and wildlife. But there are still occasions where it's impossible to prevent – like if a line breaks or something like that.”

If an incident occurs with fishing gear, Dr Hopkins advises going straight to a 24-hour centre or regular vet. “The message is don't try and deal with this yourself,” he said. “The best bet is to try and keep the animal calm and get them to the vet as quickly as possible. We can sedate them and quickly address the issue which can involve minor surgery or more serious intensive procedures as well.”

Other common beach hazards

Dr Hopkins warned of several other beach hazards that can cause dogs to fall ill. We see cases where animals have ingested large amounts of sand,” he said. “People don’t realise how dangerous a small amount of sand can be.” Just a few centimetres can cause an obstruction.

Snapping at waves while playing in the whitewash can also cause lung damage.

“Animals that are playing in the whitewash and snapping at the waves can cause nasty lung damage,” he explained. “If they are obsessive about chasing waves, keep an eye on how much they are swallowing.”

Heat stroke, sunburn and consuming too much saltwater can also cause pets to become unwell along with encountering sea creatures like jellyfish, puffer fish and toadfish.

“Just keep an eye on them,” he advises as the best way to prevent any beach mishaps.

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