As a dog owner it’s important to know the risks when letting your pooch off its leash – and one woman has found out the hard way that even plants can pose a serious threat to our furry friends.
Emma Ferrier, from Prestonpans, East Lothian, was left distraught when she took her cocker spaniel Hector out for a walk on Monday afternoon and he emerged from long grass with a swollen face.
It is believed the two-year-old working dog came into contact with a toxic plant called giant hogweed, which caused him to feel unwell and sent him into anaphylactic shock.
Hector was rushed to a nearby vets and spent around five hours receiving treatment.
Emma, 24, said: “Hector was on a walk on a long lead with my step-dad just near to Seton Sands Holiday Park in Port Seton when, as usual, he ran head-first into the long grass in a field.
“He has been in there on countless occasions but this time it was very different. As soon as he came out he just didn’t look right and he was pawing furiously at his face.
“After a few minutes his face was almost twice its normal size and he went into anaphylactic shock and spent all afternoon in the vets on an IV drip.
“My stepdad was panicking a bit but fortunately he rushed Hector to a vet in nearby Tranent where they said he has definitely come into contact with something toxic.
“It is hard to pinpoint the actual cause but I’ve been up to the field to have a look and there is a lot giant hogweed in there.
“I hadn’t noticed it before and I believe the recent hot weather has really brought it on.”
The dog owner is now issuing a stark warning to others about the dangerous plant.
She added: “Fortunately we got Hector to the vets in time and he is now recovering from his ordeal at home with antihistamine medication.
“I just hope other dog owners, not just in this area, are vigilant against their pets coming into contact with that plant as it could prove fatal if not treated right away.”
Giant hogweed can grow up to five feet tall and cause severe burns and blistering that can last several months.
The toxic plant is a non-native species to the UK, and while it may look like a giant version of the harmless plant cow parsley, the sap from the weed can be life-changing.
Burns on the skin remains sensitive to UV light for many years after healing, and the plant’s effects can even cause blindness if near the eyes.