Warning to dog owners after 'horrible' beach incident

·3-min read

Going to the beach is a treat for dog owners and dogs alike. But could your pet's favourite pastime be harming them?

Concerned pet owners have issued a warning for dog owners after their dog became severely ill due to ingesting sand at the beach. 

"Just a warning about dogs on the beach playing ball," Robert Summerill posted to a Facebook page.

"Our little Abbi ingested some sand and we ended up at the vet with her."

A small white dog with red harness sitting on the beach sand looking at a yellow ball with sand on it.
Abbi became sick after ingesting sand at the beach. Source: Michelle Summerill

Mr Summerill continued saying that thankfully, there was no major blockage and the Maltese cross shitzu cleared it herself, although was passing blood and sand.

"We were up all night with her vomiting and diarrhoea," he wrote. "Pretty horrible night for us all."

"Great news is she is on the mend and looks much better today."

Mr Summerill and his wife Michelle told Yahoo News Australia that they had been travelling along the NSW coast with their Abbi and their other dog Ted when they both became ill after playing with a tennis ball.

Woman standing on path in front of water with two dogs, one small white one and a larger brown one.
Michelle Summerill with Abbi and Ted. Source: Supplied

"Ted is a 45kg American staffy cross rottweiler so he was fine after he was sick," Michelle Summerill explained.

"We love the beach and so do our doggies. Nothing like this has happened before. So we just wanted to share it to make aware that fun sometimes comes with unforeseen risk."

Mrs Summerill added that they are going to be careful when throwing the ball to their dogs in the future, and won't use a tennis ball anymore because the sand sticks to it more.

The danger of sand ingestion to dogs

Dr David Lee, the president of the Australian Small Animal Veterinarians group, told Yahoo News Australia sand ingestion is more common than people may think. 

"Sand ingestion and dogs getting sick from it is probably under-reported," he said, adding the symptoms and severity of sand ingestion in canines can vary.

"If it's a small amount, then it may just cause some irritation and they know that they'll just get a bit of an upset tummy and they might have a bit of vomiting or constipation, but if they've eaten enough of it, then it can certainly cause a blockage," he explained.

Brown dog standing in the ocean with a red ball in mouth.
Dr Lee said he would never discourage anyone from taking their dog to the beach. Source: Paul Newman

"Some dogs can be hospitalised and worst-case scenario the sand becomes very compact and very hard sandy, gritty poo, which is just not moving in the intestine and its cause to complete blockage, which requires surgery."

Vet encourages owners to take dogs to the beach

Dr Lee said there's no specific activity that poses a direct threat of sand ingestion, but just warns dog owners to be aware that it can happen.

"Certain activities may just end up with the dogs getting a bit more sand into their stomach and intestines and then desired and it just it causes irritation," he said, suggesting trying simple things like dusting excess sand off the ball before you throw it to your dog.

"I would never discourage anyone not to take their dogs to the beach," Dr Lee said. "Sand isn't toxic in any way to the dogs but naturally it's not very nice tasting and it's irritating once it goes down."

"I think like a lot of things I think some of these problems sort of all come back to responsible pet ownership."

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