November 09, 2021

The tiny sea creature causing big problems

The tiny sea creature causing big problems
Dr. Chris Brown

There’s a surprisingly common, slimy danger lurking on our beaches this summer. Here’s what it does to pets who wrongly think it’s a snack…

The beach might just be a dog’s favourite place. Just don’t tell the park. But a sneaky little creature is doing its best to dampen the fun just in time for that summer holiday.

You’ve probably never heard of blue buttons. But dogs especially know exactly what they are and unfortunately like what they see. And this spring, strong winds and big tides have pushed this brightly coloured stinger onto our beaches in huge numbers.

So how do they work?

They might only be coin sized but these jellyfish possess tiny strands (tentacles) that, if swallowed, trigger quite serious pain and swelling in the throat, eosophagus and stomach.


The signs?

Dogs will look lethargic, withdrawn and salivate excessively. In some cases, the itchiness and burning sensation in the throat causes them to eat grass and large amounts of water to try to ease the pain. In severe situations, an anaphylactic (allergic) reaction can also cause swelling of the airways and difficulty breathing.

The NSW and Queensland coasts have been most affected this week however, warmer waters and those stronger summer onshore winds could make larger parts of the coast at risk. Getting your dog to the vet quickly if you believe they’ve swallowed a blue button can limit those damaging effects. And hopefully save the beach’s rightful place as the happiest place on Earth!


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