Dog owners walking their pets along the Cornish coast are being warned to stay on the lookout for a type of oil that can cause serious health problems for pooches.
“Fatbergs” of palm oil – which in some cases can be the size of boulders – have been spotted in recent days on Porthcothan Beach, between Newquay and Padstow.
While dogs can be tempted to lick the dirty whitish balls of palm oil, they can be left with nasty health problems as a result.
A Facebook post from Rame Peninsula Beach Care Facebook Group warned: “Palm oil is very dangerous if eaten in such amounts by dogs, they can become very ill and even die. If you suspect your dog has ingested palm oil, call your vet”.
The group uploaded a photo of a three-inch ball of the oil, saying “basically palm oil looks like a waxy pebble and can range in colour from white to a browny yellow,” and advising pet owners to keep a look-out for the potentially dangerous substance.
Anyone who finds palm oil on a beach has been advised to call 999 and report it so the coastguard can “arrange quick and safe disposal”.
Under international law, palm oil can be offloaded while tankers are still still at sea, as long as they are at least 12 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water no less than 25 metres deep.
However, storms in the Caribbean can push the marine pollution onto British beaches, and palm oil fatbergs have been spotted along the Kent as Sussex coasts as well as in Cornwall.
TV vet Marc Abraham says dog-walkers need to be on their guard: “Dogs will pick up anything on the beach, from pebbles, to food to palm oil.
‘These things can cause two-fold problems,” Marc told the Daily Mail. “the first is gastro, the second is foreign body obstructions.
“As the palm oil is so gelatinous it can get lodged in the oesophagus and require emergency surgery.
“If you think your dog has swallowed something it shouldn’t, contact your vet immediately.”
International law permits ships to offload palm oil residue while still at sea, as long as they are at least 12 nautical miles from the nearest land and in water no less than 25 metres deep.