Danger lurks in seaweed for dogs

Headshot of Geoff Vivian
Geoff VivianGeraldton Guardian
Irene Ghannage with her niece Delilah Bennell and dog Elwood Paw at Separation Point in December 2020.
Camera IconIrene Ghannage with her niece Delilah Bennell and dog Elwood Paw at Separation Point in December 2020. Credit: The Geraldton Guardian, Geoff Vivian The Geraldton Guardian

A regular dog walker is warning people to keep their pets safe after her dog nearly died on the weekend and left her almost $1200 out of pocket from the vet’s bill.

Irene Ghannage returned from her regular morning walk last Saturday without noticing her dog Elwood Paw had come into contact with a poisonous sea hare.

She left the dog to go shopping before returning with her niece Delilah Bennell, 9, about three hours later.

“Lilah spotted Paws as soon as we got in the door and she said: ‘Auntie, Paws is shaking all over, is he cold?’.

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“I took one look at him and knew he was in a life-threating situation: every muscle was shaking and he could hardly walk — it looked like a Parkinson’s case.

“I rushed him to the vet and they asked me about snail bait and rat poison which I don’t have.”

Veterinarian Stacey Russell suspected the dog had come into contact with a sea hare, which is a large marine slug often found washed up on Geraldton beaches at this time of year. “He had nothing in his stomach so it looks like he had it from a sniff or a roll,” Ms Ghannage said.

“Without actually eating it he was in a life-threating situation.

“Six hours later, after the anti-tremor meditation wore off, he was hungry and wanted to go home.”

Ms Ghannage said she hoped dog owners would take this as a warning as she had been walking Elwood Paw on that same beach daily for more than five years.

“If you are becoming complacent because your dog never pays too much attention to sea hares think again,” she said.

“Don’t become too distracted by other things when they are walking in the seaweed.”

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