Dog owners who walk their pets on windy beaches risk giving their animals horrific 'sandblast' eye injuries, a vet has warned.
Many beaches across the UK are subject to a summer time dog ban, with walkers fined £75 for breaching local council rules by taking their pooches onto the shores.
Those bans – which typically run from May 1 to September 30 – have been officially lifted this week.
But, according to veterinary surgeon Iain Booth, founder of www.vetuk.co.uk, you should still think carefully before venturing back onto the sands with your four-legged friend.
Mr Booth says vets see severe irritation and inflammation of the eyes caused by exposure to windy beaches.
And he's urging pet lovers to seek alternative walking locations for their furry chums.
He explains: “When the conditions are right, there's is absolutely no better place to walk your dog than on the beach.
“It's one of life's true pleasures and you can understand why some dog owners are passionately against the summer time beach ban.
“Yet it's also vital owners see things from a dog's eye view. You might venture onto the beach and think it's not particularly windy.
“But try putting your head on the floor next to the sand and you'll experience things from a different perspective.
“What typically happens is that an owner will walk their dog on the beach, and then dash to the surgery later when they realise their animal has now got really painful, bright red eyes.
“It can be a really shocking and scary situation for both pets and owners.
“And on a windy day you're doing the equivalent of putting their heads into a sandblasting machine.
“It causes severe irritation, interferes with their tear film, and a vet will have to introduce eye drops – essentially false tears – to restore balance.
“I don't want to take away the joy of playing around on the beach, but I do think dog owners need to be better aware of the risks.”
The warning comes weather experts warn that Britain could be battered by tropical storm Leslie next week.
The front, due to hit Europe from Sunday onwards, could bring with it 75mph winds and even stronger gusts.
And it’s not just sand that can cause irritation to a dog’s eyes.
Iain explains: “Grass seeds can be a real problem in summer and to a lesser extent in the Autumn.
“Windy weather can obviously increase the risk of a foreign body becoming lodged in the eye. They’re easily spotted as they will be sore and the dog will be unhappy, typically pawing at the face.
“You might also see some red inflammation and big ‘eye bogies’, as the eye tries to fight the inflammation through extra lubrication.
“Meanwhile some breeds of dog are more susceptible to developing ingrowing eye lashes, what’s known as ‘trichiasis’."