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Potentially lethal palm oil washes up around Cornwall

Potentially lethal palm oil washes up around Cornwall

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 1:54pm 13th August 2019. (Updated at 7:28am 14th August 2019)

Photo: Friends of Portheras Cove

A warning is going out after potentially deadly palm oil was found around the west Cornwall coast.

Friends of Portheras Cove says the white, waxy substance was found at coves around Pendeen.

A dead gannet was also discovered on Tuesday morning.

It comes just weeks after Plastic Free Newquay put out a warning to dog owners after more was found at Fistral Beach.

What is palm oil and what does it look like on the beach?

Vets Now says: "Palm oil is an edible vegetable oil derived from the pulp of the fruit of African, American and Maripa palms. It is used in processed foods, toiletries and as a biofuel. Large ships also use palm oil as a tank cleaning agent".

Its website also says: "Palm oil washed up on beaches is often white, yellow or orange and looks like waxy pebbles or boulders. These so-called blobs typically smell like diesel and may be contaminated with other waste products".

Vets Now

palm oil porth beach
Potentially deadly palm oil has been found on a beach in west Cornwall. Archive photo: Penmellyn Vets Newquay

Is palm oil safe for dogs?

"While palm oil is not poisonous to dogs, it does have a laxative effect and, if eaten, can cause sickness, diarrhoea, dehydration and, in extreme cases, pancreatitis.

"It can also cause blockages in the gut due to its semi-solid state.

"Some dogs have become seriously ill after ingesting palm oil.

"Much of the risk from palm oil is thought to derive from other toxic products mixed in it such a diesel oil from ships".

Vets Now

Can palm oil kill dogs?

"Palm oil has resulted in serious complications in a small minority of dogs. One study of 60 dogs who had ingested palm oil found fewer than half displayed symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhoea or loose stools.

"One case developed pneumonia after inhaling vomit and another had significant gastrointestinal signs and elevated liver enzymes.

"However, all of the dogs recovered and there was no evidence to suggest that palm oil ingestion in dogs can be fatal".

Vets Now

What should I do if my dog ingests palm oil?

Read more advice from Vets Now, including articles on owners whose pets have eaten palm oil.

If you see palm oil on the beach people are asked to report sightings to 0300 1234 141.

You can find more information from Cornwall Council here.

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