Warning after 'very dangerous' substance for dogs found on Cornwall beaches

A picture of the palm oil which was found at Whitsand Bay. Credit: Rame Peninsula Beach Care

A warning has been issued to dog owners after lumps of palm oil washed up on Cornish beaches.

The waxy substance has been spotted on beaches including Portwrinkle and Tregonhawke in recent weeks.

It is not toxic to people but can be dangerous for dogs if it is eaten, causing sickness, diarrhoea, dehydration and - in extreme cases - pancreatitis.

The warning was posted on social media by Rame Peninsula Beach Care, who also shared a picture of the waxy lumps.

"Sadly lumps of palm oil were found on Tregonhawke and main beaches during the day,” they said.

“This follows reports of palm oil on Portwrinkle beach recently. It would be best to consider that this is likely to be on all beaches in Whitsand Bay.

"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 photo is of a lump found on Sunday. Basically, palm oil looks like a waxy pebble and can range in colour from white to a browny yellow. This piece is about 7cm long.”

What is palm oil and why is it dangerous to dogs?

Palm oil found on a beach in Cornwall in 2020. Credit: Cornwall Live / BPM Media

Palm oil is a waxy substance, often white, yellow or orange in colour.

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.

While it is not toxic to people, Vets Now explains why it can be dangerous to 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,” they said.

"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 as diesel oil from ships".