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Pet owners visiting the beach for a day of fun and sun can anticipate the occasional safety hazard: holes in the sand, sharp pieces of driftwood or jagged shells, trash, etc. Unfortunately, after a recent experience with their 2-year-old Westie/poodle mix, Ranger, Brace and Janet Rohrer can add stinging Portuguese man o’ wars to their list.
“My wife had taken Ranger to the beach that day and was playing fetch with him,” recalled Brace Rohrer of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. “Ranger ran out to get the ball, but a man o’ war” – a venomous invertebrate similar to a jellyfish – “was lying next to it. Ranger pounced on the man o’ war instead of the ball and got stung on his right front paw.”
At his veterinarian’s office, Ranger received a dose of anti-inflammatory medication, an antihistamine, and a shot of pain reliever. Ranger was also fitted with a soft Elizabethan collar to prevent him from licking the affected area. “Ranger was pretty sleepy and laid around at first when we brought him home and didn’t want to move,” Rohrer recalled. “But he was himself again after a few hours – and the soft cone was no obstacle.”
Ranger was lucky. Aside from being extremely painful, a Portuguese man o’ war’s sting can cause fever, shock, circulatory and respiratory distress.
“We’re going to have to take him farther up on the beach,” Rohrer said, “and keep him away from the water. He’d probably still jump on another one if he saw it.”