Owners warn other dog owners to be on their guard for toxic creatures

Cockapoo Archie is lucky to be alive after eating a starfish while walking on a beach.

Owner Jackie Garnham was with Archie and her family on the Felixstowe coast when he spotted the creature and scoffed it.

“He picked something up and we thought ‘oh my gosh, that looks like a starfish,” Jackie told the East Anglian Daily Times. “We were chasing him around but he thought it was a game. It was all gone before we could get it out of his mouth.”

It wasn’t long before Archie started to feel poorly, so Jackie called her daytime vet in Ipswich who advised her to bring him in. He was then transferred to another practice as his condition deteriorated.

An image of Archie, the Cockapoo who nearly died after eating a starfish, for Vets Now article on are starfish dog ate starfish
Archie's life was in danger after swallowing a starfish

“He was getting too dehydrated,” Jackie explained. “The vets said it wasn’t good. His back legs were dropping and his eyes were not what they were.”

Some starfish contain dangerous toxins which can cause weakness and paralysis.

The poison Archie had ingested quickly found its way into his bloodstream – despite him throwing up – leaving his heart and respiratory system at risk. Archie’s condition was so severe he was transferred to Vets Now in Ipswich for overnight monitoring and treatment.

Our emergency vets diagnosed him with ataxia – a condition which results in a loss of coordination of the limbs. Archie received round-the-clock care and treatment and eventually his health took a turn for the better.

“That is what turned him around,” Jackie said. “We went back in the morning at 7:20am and we didn’t think we would be taking him home. Looking at him now you would not have thought he was so ill.

“It is so hard to see if they are eating anything, even if they are on the lead,” she said. “It could have happened to anyone. If you want your dogs to be able to run around on the beach, perhaps invest in a muzzle.”

Our advice would be to avoid handling starfish yourself and to keep your dog away from them. Contact your vet for advice if you think your dog might have eaten a starfish.

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The Vets Now clinic in Ipswich – where Archie received treatment – is rated as an “outstanding” provider of pet emergency care by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons.

It is one of more than 60 Vets Now clinics and pet emergency hospitals across the UK that are open through the night, seven-days-a-week, and day and night on weekends and bank holidays, to treat any pet emergencies that may occur.

All of Vets Now’s premises have a vet and vet nurse on site at all times.

We also offer an online video consultation service to make professional veterinary advice more easily available. While the service is not suitable for life-threatening emergencies like Archie’s, our experienced vets are available to discuss any worries or concerns you might have.

If your pet needs an in-person follow-up appointment at any vet practice, Vets Now will refund the online consultation fee, so you never pay twice.