ATHENS, AL (WAFF) - One north Alabama family said a fun day in the sand turned into a nightmare. Vegas, the Shelton family's 13-year-old dog almost didn't make it back from their trip from Florida because of sand impaction.
"It was a great trip up until the end and it just went downhill and I have never heard of sand causing a problem," said Wendy Shelton.
The family from Athens decided to take Vegas to the beach for a day on their vacation last week. They say she mostly sat on their laps as they sunbathed and were shocked when they found out why she was so sick.
"She had a little sand on her paws and we had it on our swim trunks and when we came in we didn't think anything about it," Shelton explained. "By the next morning, 7 or 7:30, she was lethargic. She could barely sit up and she just didn't look right."
Vegas spent multiple nights at the vet, costing them nearly $3,000.
"They said that she would not make it if we drove home because of the blockage and needed to be on IVs," Shelton added. "I can't believe she had so much in her but it had to of been from bringing it in days before, like on our shoes and coolers and beach bags, and she must have been licking it from that too," she said.
Besides having sand throughout her intestines, Vegas also had some in her lungs. She caught pneumonia and pancreatitis.
Dr. John Hammons at Town and Country Animal Hospital encourages pet owners to really watch their four legged friends when they take them around so they don't eat something that's covered in sand.
"Make sure they stay on a short leash so they can't get to something very quickly without you controlling them," Hammons said.
He also said don't let them drink the salt water. It has bacteria and can cause stomach issues too. Another tip is to feed the pets before taking them to the beach.
"If you are grilling out at the beach and you have all the drippings from all of the meat or you've been collecting it in a pan, don't through those things out on the grass. The pet will be attracted to it even if you can't see it, they'll be constantly wanting to lick, chew, and they'll be picking up a lot of sand, dirt, sticks," he said.
As for Vegas, she's on a strict diet and medication. Her owner doesn't want this to happen to another pet.
"I just want other people to know that this could happen and I just wish that some of the pet-friendly establishments would post something about the dangers of it," Shelton said.
According to the Sheltons, the Florida vet told them the sand impaction in dogs was not uncommon there. It happens more often with dogs from 1 to 3 years old.
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