By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: May 12, 2012
Last year, Kristy Lake spent more than $1,500 in treatment for her dog, Finnigan, who took ill while walking the Nexen Beach trails.
“He got really dehydrated, and he ended up having diarrhea,” Lake said on phone from her Collingwood, Ontario home, where the family moved last year from Squamish.
The family’s second dog, Bennet, too, got sick while walking on Nexen Beach.
Nexen Beach is what Dr. Melanie Armstrong hears about most these days as worried pet owners bring dogs sick with vomiting and diarrhoea.
“It’s becoming quite common for me to treat dogs that have got sick walking on Nexen Beach,” Dr. Armstrong says.
Change of season, indiscriminate eating, and dog poo that has been left to rot in the park are major reasons for dogs getting sick.
Dogs will indulge in scavenging when they are off-leash, says Dr. Jasdeep Grewal of Alpenlofts Veterinary Hospital.
“If a dog comes across a dead fish, the dog will want to taste it,” he said.
Nexen isn’t officially an off-leash park, but it’s a popular place with pet owners to let the dogs off-leash.
Grewal said he has heard anecdotal evidence about dogs getting sick on Nexen Beach, but there is no specific study that points to specific problems about that particular site.
He said the changing season is also to blame.
“There is pollen, there are parasites that are proliferating. The probability of getting sick is high,” he said.
Dr. Tom Honey of Garibaldi Veterinary Hospital said feces deposited during cooler months get dissolved during spring time and enters the water, and cause bacteria contamination.
He gets some cases from Nexen, but also from all other trails in town.
He said he advises pet owners to pick up the dog poo, carry water with them, and try to have their dogs on a leash.
“All pet owners should make sure to clean up after their pets and make sure the dogs are not ingesting things they shouldn’t,” he said.
“The bacteria that creates this issue is clostridium and/or campylobacter. If left untreated severe cases can result in death,” added Dr. Armstrong.