Owner’s quick thinking saves Trooper after he suffers a bad reaction

An autumn day at the beach almost ended in tragedy for cocker spaniel Trooper when she was stung by a jellyfish.

The 16-month-old suffered a serious reaction and owner Adele Moore feared she was going to lose her beloved pet.

Adele rushed her to our Vets Now clinic in Kilmarnock and speedy treatment from our vets and vet nurses helped her back to health.

Now home help Adele is urging other owners to keep their dogs well away from hazardous jellyfish.

Image of Trooper the spaniel and owner Adele for Vets Now article on dog jellyfish sting UK
Trooper's owner Adele is urging other owners to keep their dogs away from jellyfish

Walks on the sands are a twice-daily treat for Trooper as the beach is just a three-minute walk from the family home in Fairlie, in Ayrshire.

“We take her there morning and night because it’s so handy,” said Adele, 43, who has had Trooper since she was a pup.

“I’m always on the lookout for anything that might be dangerous and on this day the beach was covered in jellyfish that had been washed ashore.

“There was no way I was going to take a risk, so we actually put her in the car and drove to the beach at Ardrossan.”

With just a couple of small, red jellyfish visible, Adele and niece Melanie had no qualms about letting Trooper off the lead to run free.

But disaster struck after he picked up a stick which had a jellyfish on it. Within minutes Adele knew something was badly wrong.

“She started coughing and her eyes glazed over,” recalled Adele.

“It was as if she was hallucinating and didn’t recognise me. She was staggering and then just collapsed.

“We tried to give her water, but she was being sick and struggling to swallow, like there was a big ball in her throat.

“She was having real difficulty breathing and I was panicking and screaming. If it hadn’t been for Melanie, who calmed me down, I don’t know what I would have done.”

Adele called her local vet in West Kilbride and, as it was out of hours, was referred to our clinic in Kilmarnock.

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Image of Trooper the spaniel running on the beach for Vets Now article on dog jellyfish sting uk
Tragedy almost struck when Trooper picked up a stick with a jellyfish on it

“It was such a relief to have somewhere to take her when our vet was closed and we were in such a state,” said Adele, who admits she still gets emotional when she thinks back to the trauma.

“They were so kind and reassuring because I really thought I was going to lose her. They could see she was having a reaction and gave her steroids and anti-sickness medication.

“Thankfully it started to work really quickly and within half an hour she was showing signs of being herself. I’m so grateful to Vets Now.”

There are more than 200 species of jellyfish but only six are commonly found in UK waters. They are most prevalent in summer and autumn, especially in the warmer waters off the south-west coast.

Most of the jellyfish found washed up on beaches are already dead but, beware, they still have the ability to sting so may be dangerous all-year round.

Laura Playforth, Vets Now’s professional standards director, said: “If your dog is stung by a jellyfish pull off the remaining tentacles with a stick or towel but never rub them and be careful not to touch them with your hands.

“Never rub the injured area on your dog with sand and always clean it with sea water rather than fresh water.

“It’s worth bearing in mind that we have had cases where collapsed dogs have gone into anaphylactic shock after being stung by a jellyfish.”

Although Trooper still had difficulty swallowing for a day or two, she made a full recovery.

But Adele is now even more cautious when she takes her dog out and urges other owners to pay heed, too.

“Even if you only see the smallest of jellyfish, just take your dog away from the beach,” added Adele. “If I’d known then what I do now, that’s definitely what I’d have done.

“They can be so dangerous and I’d hate anyone to go through what I did. It was horrific.”

“If your dog is stung by a jellyfish pull off the remaining tentacles with a stick or towel but never rub them and be careful not to touch them with your hands. Always clean it with sea water rather than fresh water"

Laura Playforth Vets Now’s professional standards director

If you suspect your dog has been stung you should contact your vet or, out of hours, your nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic or 24/7 hospital straight away.

The Vets Now clinic in Kilmarnock — where Trooper received treatment — is one of more than 60 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.