Dog owners have been urged to keep their pooches away from a toxic plant known as “dead man’s fingers”.

Hemlock roots were found in Cornwall at the weekend – and the RSPCA has warned that eating even just a small amount can kill animals and humans.

The discovery of the nasty plant was made by Suzanne Dellamuro at Carbis Bay on Sunday morning, when she spotted a clump of white roots, reports CornwallLive.

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The roots, which look like a bunch of parsnips and smell like parsley, contain carry a deadly poison called oenanthotoxin. Even just touching hemlock can cause a painful skin reaction.

The plant's alkaloids can affect nerve impulse transmission to the muscles, leading to respiratory failure.

Common symptoms of hemlock poisoning include trembling, burning in the digestive tract, increased salivation, dilated pupils, muscle pain, muscle weakness or muscle paralysis, rapid heart rate followed by a decreased heart rate, loss of speech, convulsions, unconsciousness or coma.

Suzanne said she picked up the plant and disposed of it while wearing gloves.

She posted a picture of the roots in a bid to help others identify the plant, writing: "Beware, hemlock roots found on Carbis Bay beach.

"I picked it up with gloves and disposed of it. But be careful it’s very, very poisonous."

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Earlier this year, the RSPCA issued a warning to dog owners over the plant after one pet was killed and another almost died in Cornwall.

The charity said: "It is known to be highly toxic to dogs and can cause convulsions and may be fatal.

"We'd always advise owners to be observant when out walking with their dog."

In July last year, a toddler was rushed to hospital after taking a bite out of a hemlock plant while playing in his garden near Dereham, Norfolk.

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He was urged to spit it out straight away but his concerned mum called 111 just to make sure, given that it was likely he had swallowed some of the small flowers.

He was then rushed to A&E where he was looked after for about five hours.

"The doctor told us if he had swallowed the whole thing, within two or three hours he could have ended up with paralysis or in cardiac arrest," mum Megan, 28, told the East Anglian Daily Times.


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