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Biosecurity scientists are examining whether there is a link between large numbers of fish being washed ashore and illnesses and deaths to dogs that have visited Auckland beaches.

One dog died last month after being taken to Browns Bay beach, while there was a second fatality this week from another North Shore location, Cheltenham Beach.

Biosecurity New Zealand today said it was investigating unusually large numbers of pilchards washing up on beaches further north, near Whangaparaoa Peninsula and Martins Bay.

The pilchards had been sent to its diagnostic laboratories to discover if a disease was responsible, with results expected early next week.

Animal response senior adviser Naya Brangenberg said it was too soon to tell if there was any connection between the dead fish and the dog illness.

However, given that they occurred in different locations, they were being treated as unrelated at this time.

She said people who found unusually numbers of dead fish or other marine life should contact the pest and disease hotline at 0800-809966.

Biosecurity NZ had investigated several dog cases, five on the North Shore and one on Waiheke Island, and was investigating further reports received today, she said.

The key sign shown by the affected dogs was repeated vomiting with quick recovery, although those that died developed seizures.

Ms Brangenberg said tests so far had failed to show any clear reason for the illness or death and there was nothing so far to indicate chemical or pesticide poisoning. Pathology results from the dog that died yesterday were expected this week.

Auckland Regional Public Health Service has recommended that people avoid exercising pets on Hauraki Gulf beaches. The service has also recommended children be kept away from the beaches and that no shellfish should be collected from the Hauraki Gulf, until more was known about the dog illness.

Dog owners whose animals became ill after contact with North Shore beaches should seek immediate advice from their vet.

- NZPA