A woman and her dog have had a close with one of the world’s most poisonous fish species while at a popular Melbourne beach.
Walking along Altona Dog Beach on Thursday evening, alarm bells started ringing when the Melbourne woman noticed her furry friend picked up a spiky, dead fish in his mouth, later identified as a deadly pufferfish.
“My dog decided to try eat this,” she said on Reddit, posting a photo of the creature. “He refused to drop it, so I had to remove it from his mouth, in the process I think I felt a tiny prick on my thumb. Will we be ok?”
1200 times more poisonous than cyanide
With enough poison to kill 30 people, the pufferfish, dead or alive, can be fatal to both humans and dogs if eaten.
Ranked as one of the most poisonous species in the world, the creature contains a toxin called tetrodotoxin on its skin and in its internal organs, which is also found in blue-ringed octopus. It’s about 1200 times more poisonous than cyanide, according to the Animal Emergency Service.
Dr Georgina Child, a neurology specialist at the Small Animal Specialist Hospital, warned Yahoo News Australia the toxin has been known to kill animals “within minutes”, meaning animals suffering symptoms should be rushed to the nearest vet immediately.
“They may often vomit and become weak very quickly, so have difficulty standing,” Dr Child said.
“It affects their ability to move and then, depending on the amount of toxin absorbed, it can rapidly progress to them being unable to breathe.”
Woman and dog ‘feel fine’
In the comments, the Melbourne local gave an update after chatting to an emergency vet.
“They said because he didn’t ingest any and he hasn’t had any symptoms he will be fine,” she said. “As for myself I feel fine but will call a nurse if I develop symptoms.”
Dead pufferfish are known to wash up on beaches in the area, such as at Altona and Williamstown, according to the Hobson Bay Veterinary Clinic.
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