People are being asked to keep away from lumps of palm oil washed up along the Sussex coast as it could be lethal to dogs.
The white waxy substance forms in lumps on the beach.
The problem is thought to have been caused by a ship discharging a large amount of the substance out at sea off Cornwall last month.
Although harmless to humans, it can be toxic to dogs if eaten by them, causing serious illness and, in some cases, death.
Gail McNeill, from Torquay, said: “My dog ate toxic Palm oil and needed emergency treatment to prevent poisoning.
“My dog was incredibly ill developing acute pancreatitis and almost died.
“It looks like small stones, has a biscuity texture, I almost mistook it for seabird droppings, smells slightly unpleasant and is very tasty to dogs.
The problem is nothing new in Sussex with several incidents of dogs being poisoned reported at Worthing and Shoreham last year.
A Lancing dog walker had to rush his pet greyhound to the vet for emergency treatment after it ate some of the white, chalk-like fat.
Owner Andrew Rogers, recognised the substance immediately and sought veterinary help. His dog, Lily, was taken to a surgery in Hove where she was given medicine to help rid her system of the hazardous palm oil, which has been known to kill dogs in other parts of the country.
Mr Rogers said: “We were very worried. It certainly seems to be very attractive to dogs and Lily had eaten a fair quantity of it. We knew we had to act quickly.”
Vet Bronwen Eastwood advised dog owners to muzzle their pets while walking on the beach following stormy weather, or keep them on the lead.
She said: “If a dog does eat some unusual substance on the beach it should be taken directly to the vet, as a matter of urgency, with a sample of the substance.”
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