For the second week in a row, I am writing about risks to our dogs from coastal living; last week it was fish hooks and this week it is palm oil.

For those of you that do not know, palm oil is a substance used in all sorts of industry and cooking and is shipped all over the world in large container ships. These ships will often clean out their palm oil tanks at sea and, especially after stormy weather, some of this oil will wash up on our beaches.

On the beach the oil looks like a horrible white/yellow clump of lard. We had a suspected case of palm oil toxicity last weekend from a local beach.

Pure palm oil itself tends to just cause some sickness and diarrhoea in dogs but the trouble is that the stuff that washes up on our beaches tends to be old and rancid and has often absorbed various pollutants and diesels along the way.

Despite the nasty nature of washed-up palm oil our dogs seem to love to eat it given half a chance. There have been various reports of dogs becoming ill after eating palm oil and therefore it is always worth seeking veterinary attention.

We may or may not make a dog that has eaten palm oil sick as it can cause problems on the way back up but that will depend on the circumstance. We will certainly give oral medication to absorb any toxins and treat any signs of toxicity. As owners the best thing you can do is Google what palm oil looks like so that you are aware, that way you can spot it on the beach and keep your dog away from any that you see.

Alice Moore is a vet at Castle Veterinary Clinic, Dorchester and Weymouth. Tel 01305 267083