This morning, pet owners in Sussex were once again warned to keep an eye on their animals because of palm oil brought ashore by stormy weather. Newhaven coastguard is urging dog walkers to be aware that lumps of the rancid oil known as fatbergs have washed up in Rottingdean and Saltdean.
DOG WALKERS BEWARE Reports of possible palm oil on the beaches in the Rottingdean / Saltdean areas
— NewhavenCG (@NCGIncident) February 28, 2017
The mounds of oil are thought to be coming from ships, which can legally release the oil into the ocean. It is believed that the aftermath of Storm Doris has bought so many of them ashore. Shockingly, this is becoming an all-too-common phenomenon. Sightings of congealed palm oil on England’s south coast were also documented after storm Angus in November, as well as in spring 2016.
Fetid palm oil can cause some people’s skin to come out in a rash, and cause an upset stomach if ingested. Dogs are often known to eat fatbergs while they’re being walked, but it is toxic to pooches and can make them seriously ill.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service, which has recently received a number of emergency enquiries about dogs that have eaten palm oil, said: “The main problems are vomiting and diarrhoea and these can lead to dehydration, particularly in young or small dogs. We do not think it is the age of the oil that is causing this, as fresh oil would cause the same problems. There is also a potential risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) which can result in vague, non-specific signs including vomiting and diarrhoea. This is a risk in dogs that eat a large amount of any fatty or oily food substance.”
How can you identify these toxic fatbergs? They are white or cream in colour and look similar to candle wax or lard. The solidified masses can be any size, and typically smell rotten.
If you come into contact with palm oil, it should be washed off immediately with soap or shower gel. As for dogs, vets advise using a muzzle, not letting your dog off its leash, or avoiding contaminated beaches altogether.
Featured image by Andrew Hasson.