Poison warning for dogs after storms

An urgent warning has been issued to dog owners after poisonous vegetation  was washed up in recent storms.

One dog has already died after eating vegetation near the shore in Cardross yesterday.

A spokesperson for D W Craig vets in Helensburgh said the material was highly poisonous and the dog had died within 20 minutes.

A second dog had suffered fits but was now hoped to be recovering.

Police have not yet confirmed what is responsible and Argyll and Bute Council staff are investigating.

In the meantime dog owners are advised to avoid any areas where material has been washed up by the recent high tides.

A council spokesperson said the issue was being investigated by environmental health officers in Helensburgh in conjunction with amenity services and Police Scotland.

“The area affected is Cardross shoreline and the plant appears to be established rather than being washed ashore. Investigations are ongoing,” she added.

UPDATE: The plant has now been identified – see the more recent story here.



    This plant is frequently described as ‘probably the most poisonous plant found in Britain’. In 1987 it was said that there had been fourteen reported cases in the 20th century, nine of which were fatal. It contains oenanthetoxin, a poly-unsaturated alcohol similar to the cicutoxin found in Cicuta spp. (Cicuta maculata is more usually called water hemlock.)
    The roots contain the greatest concentration. It is sometimes said that the toxins are stronger in the winter but it may be that, in the absence of other vegetation, of the toxins, especially in the winter. A small amount of raw plant material is fatal causing nausea, convulsions, excessive salivation and dilated pupils. Death comes quickly. The roots have been eaten in mistake for parsnips and the stems have been eaten as celery.
    Thomas Johnson

    Thomas Johnson was born in Selby, Yorkshire early in the 17th century. The first record of him being involved with plants shows that he was in London by 1626.

    In 1629, he joined an expedition of apothecaries intent on exploring an area and documenting, for the first time, the plants found there. The expedition was to Kent. One of the plants they brought back which had never before been found to grow in England was Cannabis sativa, marijuana.

    In 1633, his extensively revised version of John Gerard’s ‘Great Herbal’ was published. It added 800 plants and 700 illustrations to Gerard’s work and Johnson accused Gerard of dishonesty as well as mocking his gullibility (Gerard believed that Barnacle geese were the fruit of an exceptional tree).

    Johnson was undoubtedly a better botanist than Gerard and his 1633 revision is the definitive version of the ‘Great Herbal’.

    It is probable that Cicuta maculata has the best claim to the name water hemlock since the maculata, meaning speckled, means it looks most like the Conium maculatum, poison hemlock.

    The book ‘Poisonous Plants and Fungi’ says vomiting occurs with both O. crocata and C. virosa the former within an hour of ingestion. Frohne and Pfander in ‘A Colour Atlas of Poisonous Plants’ say Cicuta and Oenanthe have the same effects but the MAFF publication ‘Poisonous Plants in Britain and their effects on Animals and Man’ gives nausea and vomiting in the list of effects of Cicuta virosa but says that death from Oenanthe crocata, in animals, is quick and may be symptomless.

    The smell of the plant causes giddiness.

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  1. Poison plant identified | The Lochside Press
  2. Urgent warning to dog owners after storms « The Lochside Press
  3. Warning to pet owners as poison plants are spotted again | The Lochside Press

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