A Woonona man has described his extraordinary experience of sucking a leech out of his dog's eye, in the ultimate show of the lengths man will go to for his best friend. The unconventional bit of bush veterinary medicine appears to have worked out well for all parties. However a leech expert has gently cautioned against the practice, warning it risks health complications for both dog and man. Woonona physiotherapist Ben Foster, 31, was mountain biking in the Illawarra escarpment on Sunday, November 19 when he noticed a telltale black smear in the eye of his two-year-old Kelpie, Alma. After a few minutes of failed attempts with his hands, he said he pressed his mouth directly to the dog's eyeball and sucked. "I took my gloves off and tried to prise it [the leech] out a little bit, but it was literally under the inside of her eyelid," Mr Foster told the Mercury. "I'm grossed out by leeches at the best of times, because I didn't grow up with them - I grew up in a farm out of Wagga, and it was too dry for them. "But I sucked it off and spat it out. It was pretty spontaneous. I got it out [of my mouth] pretty quickly. "It was just a slippery little sucker," he said, adding the texture involved, "related to noodles, as you can imagine". Mr Foster later wrote about the extraction on social media, curious whether anyone had shared his experience (no one had). He said he hadn't wanted to let his dog suffer for the 40 minutes it would have taken to get home, and then for the further time it would have taken to go to a vet clinic. He said Alma was unharmed, showing no signs of ill health in the days since. But an expert has warned that leeches pose an infection risk to their host whenever they are manually removed. According to Professor Shokoofeh Shamsi, a professor in veterinary parasitology at Charles Sturt University, a feeding leech is best left alone. "After they get their blood, they just fall off, so the best thing you can do is if you see these leeches - especially if it is in a sensitive area like the eye, is just let it go," said Prof Shamsi, an internationally-known scientist in the fields of medical and veterinary parasitology. "They have suckers under two ends of the body and one of them is the mouth, and inside that they have some big, solid structures which could could be considered like their teeth. "If people try to manually remove it themselves, they can break the body of the leech. Leaving those teeth behind can cause bacterial infection. That can have really serious consequences in area like the eye." "Never ever try to manually remove a leech manually - that's the worst thing you can do." Leeches secrete an anticoagulant with their saliva, which causes the host's blood to flow freely, even once the leech has detached. Prof Shamsi said the bleeding would stop soon enough, in a healthy animal. She said freshwater leeches such as those found in the Illawarra escarpment would fall off naturally in "a few hours, maximum". Prof Shamsi advises people concerned about leeches in the bush to carry salt water spray - a saline solution, available at chemists. The spray can be safely applied to areas including eyes, causing a leech to detach. She said said humans risked their own health by taking one of the creatures inside their mouths. "You would never drink untreated water, like from a river," she said. "The leech may have been in contact with organisms that could cause diarrhoea." "He [Mr Foster] loved his dog. He did what he thought was best, but it's unwise."