Although our beautiful local beaches are an attractive option for exercising dogs, there is a fatal attraction hidden in the high water debris of which dog lovers should be aware.
The toadfish belongs to the toxic puffer fish (or blow fish) family – species of which are known for the Japanese delicacy fugu, a dish that can prove deadly unless prepared by skilled and highly experienced chefs.
While these unusual ‘toadies’ mostly prove an annoyance for Australian fishers who know not to eat them, they pose a deadly threat to unwitting dogs.
The Green family from Cobargo recently lost their beloved dog to one of these “toxic landmines” and shared their story so other pet owners could take note.
Honey, a nine-year-old Labrador, sniffed out one on a local beach recently and had gulped it down before her owners could stop her.
Within half an hour she was vomiting and within the hour she was dead.
Honey’s family had never heard of this risk before and questioned whether many dog owners have.
They said when toadfish decompose they might smell just like any other disgusting yet tasty morsel most dogs love to eat.
It is only when the stinking snack is licked, chewed or swallowed that the lethal neurotoxin (Tetrodotoxin) within the fish will begin its devastating attack.
There is no antidote or vaccine and the only chance your dog has is to be taken to a vet immediately for a range of highly invasive procedures that may or may not save your dog. Toadfish remain lethal after death so from the moment they first wash up on a beach they present an extreme danger to all dogs and any other animal that may ingest them or any part of them.
The easiest way to avoid these fish becoming toxic landmines is for beachgoers to dispose of them immediately. A doggy bag does the job.
Kerryn Wood from the Sapphire Coast Marine Discovery Centre said several species of puffer fish visit local waters.
The “smooth toadfish” is the most common, but she said others that beachgoers and divers may encounter are “spiny puffer fish” or the “threebar porcupine fish”, which are much bigger than the toadie.
All are toxic and should not be eaten – by humans or animals.
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