A MUCH loved pet dog swallowed so much sand at the seaside it became seriously ill and could have died without emergency treatment.

Helen Stokoe, from Consett, rushed cockapoo Ruby to the vet's after she fell ill and was horrified when an x-ray revealed her intestines were full of impacted sand.

The pup had accidentally swallowed it whilst playing with a tennis ball at Seaton Sluice, Northumberland, and has made a full recovery following treatment.

Vet Amanda Foo from Prince Bishop Veterinary Hospital in Leadgate, who treated Ruby, said: "I was shocked how much sand was inside Ruby's intestines.

"It was making her very uncomfortable, so I gave her pain relief to make her feel better and administered fluids to encourage the sand to move through her digestive system.

"The sand was very dry, so the fluid moistened it and helped ease it through her intestines so she could pass it naturally.

"We kept Ruby at the hospital overnight to keep a close eye on her and continue with the fluid therapy.

"We also took follow-up x-rays to check on the progress of the sand and, after 48 hours, we could see that most of the sand had left Ruby's system, which was great news.

"Ruby is very lucky that her owner brought her to us so quickly, so she could get the help she needed straightaway.

"There was so much sand inside Ruby it was unlikely to have moved on its own, and if left untreated it would have put her at risk of a ruptured intestine, which can be fatal."

The Northern Echo:

Ruby with owner Helen Stokoe, head nurse Cheryl and vet Amanda

Mrs Stokoe said: "I am so grateful to the team at Prince Bishop for all they did for Ruby. They were very caring and I can't fault how they looked after her and made her better.

"On the day Ruby fell ill she had been to the beach at Seaton Sluice with my son Josh, his partner Sumara and their 14-month-old son Theo and they spent a couple of hours on and off playing fetch with her, which is her favourite game. "She was sick in the car on the way home, and again when she got back, and each time she was bringing up sand.

"I was very worried, so I called Prince Bishop for advice and they told me to bring her in.

"I had no idea that sand could cause such a problem for dogs, and when Amanda showed me Ruby's X-ray I was horrified how much she had swallowed.

"Ruby had been playing with a tennis ball on a dry area of the beach, and I imagine the dry, loose sand clung to the ball then went into Ruby's mouth every time she picked it up.

"In the future when we take Ruby to the seaside we will try and find an area away from the beach to play ball or use a smooth ball that the sand won't stick to so easily."

The practice is now warning owners to keep a close eye on their dogs when they're at the beach and said whilst they can be fun places to take a dog, it is important to be aware of the hazards including sand and drinking sea water which is also potentially fatal.

Ms Foo said: "Something else to look out for is dogs swallowing sea water, which is dangerous because it contains a lot of salt and can cause vomiting, diarrhoea and dehydration.

"Drinking salt water can even be fatal, so call your vet if you think your dog has swallowed large amounts.

"Dogs can swallow the water by accident when they're swimming in the sea, while others might be tempted to drink it if they become really thirsty, so always remember to take some fresh water to the beach for your pet, and a bowl to drink out of.

"Also, it's really important to provide shade for your dog and don't encourage them to run about too much on hot days, because some dogs can quickly overheat."