Warning issued to pet owners as mystery ‘beach bug’ kills one dog and leaves 8 severely ill

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Natural Resources Wales has urged owners to take precautions and “keep pets away from any stagnant water” as it monitors the situation

An urgent warning has been issued to pet owners after a mystery ‘beach bug’ has killed one dog and left another eight severely unwell.

The dogs were taken ill after being walked on the popular beach of Aberffraw on the Welsh island of Anglesey, which is suspected to be at the epicentre. All known incidents are believed to be linked to contact with still water near beaches, fuelling speculation the outbreak may be linked to blue-green algae.

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Natural Resources Wales (NRW), the Environment Agency in Wales, suspects this is not the case but it is urging dog owners to take precautions as it monitors the situation.

A spokesperson said: "We are aware of a number of dogs falling ill on beaches on Anglesey and we have been liaising with local groups and individuals. We do not believe this is linked to any algal blooms in the area and we will continue to monitor the situation.

"However, we would advise owners to keep pets away from any stagnant water and any obvious algal growth or accumulation as a precaution."

Last year a mystery illness affected dogs at beaches across several parts of Yorkshire and North East England, with gastroenteritis-like symptoms. However, it is unclear whether the latest outbreak is similar in nature.

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Urgent warning issued to pet owners after a mystery ‘beach bug’ has killed one dog and left another eight severely unwell. (Photo: Getty Images) Urgent warning issued to pet owners after a mystery ‘beach bug’ has killed one dog and left another eight severely unwell. (Photo: Getty Images)
Urgent warning issued to pet owners after a mystery ‘beach bug’ has killed one dog and left another eight severely unwell. (Photo: Getty Images) | Getty Images

An Anglesey dog owner who is liaising with NRW has been contacted by several others whose dogs have fallen ill, North Wales Live reports. The woman, who asked not to be named, said in most cases symptoms were severe “affecting the liver and kidneys and requiring veterinary treatment."

She is sharing information through social media so people can make informed decisions including changing daily routines.

She said: “Nothing obvious has been reported, such as palm oil or eating dead fish. However the one factor that’s common to the cases is dogs visiting still water as well as the sea.

“NRW believes algal blooms are unlikely to be responsible but it’s a difficult one: wind can shift algal blooms and an area that might be a problem one day, and might not be the next.”

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She added: “If the cause is blue-green algae, which occurs naturally in still or stagnant water such as lakes, marshes and ponds, it is incredibly toxic to dogs. But at this stage we don’t really know what’s causing it.”

Over the past week she has received reports of canine illness from across the island, including Cemaes Bay and Holyhead. There are also signs of a possible cluster in Aberffraw, and affected dog owners want to see more monitoring to see if a source can be identified.

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