Thanks for spreading the word on pet toxicities on your blog - so important for pet owners to be aware of the lurking household poisons in (and outside of) their house! As an ER specialist, I see so many toxicities that owners bring in too late (making it more expensive to treat, with a worse prognosis!). When in doubt, it's so important to call a Poison Control for peace of mind!
Given the very hot weather that many areas of the country have been experiencing recently, blue-green algae may become a problem earlier this year than in past years. Blue- green algae blooms typically occur during the hot, long days of late summer in both fresh and salt water throughout the United States. Blooms have the appearance of thick mats or carpets of algae that are pea green or blue-green on the surface. These algae blooms may contain hepatoxins and/or neurotoxins. Dogs that swim and livestock that may graze in the water are most commonly affected.
Symptoms that are seen with the neurotoxin form or blue-green algae toxicity can include salivation, lacrimation, urination, diarrhea (SLUD) muscle rigidity, dyspnea (difficulty breathing), pulmonary edema, tremors, seizures and paralysis. Symptoms are rapidly occurring, generally within an hour of exposure. Many animals will die with in 24 hours of exposure.
The hepatoxin form of blue-green algae result in lethargy, weakness, vomiting and diarrhea that is many times bloody, depression and shock follow. Symptoms generally occur with 1 to 4 hours of exposure and death can occur in 24 hours to several days as the liver continues to fail.
Once animals begin to exhibit symptoms from blue-green algae, their prognosis is very grave. Not all blue-green algae contain the toxin producing bacteria but all blooms should be considered potentially dangerous. Keeping dogs out of the water where any algae bloom is present is best method of prevention.
I wanted to make you aware of an important resource out there also - Pet Poison Helpline is an additional Animal Poison Control Center, and it's one of the most cost-effective animal poison ($35/case vs. ASPCA's new $60/case) controls out there nowadays. Unfortunately, because animal poison controls are not federal- or state-funded, there is a fee to allow the service to be run 24-7. We provide a similar service, but have the added benefit of veterinary specialists (in internal medicine and emergency and critical care) as part of our staff. You can always call 1-800-213-6680 if you ever have a problem. Thanks for spreading the word!
Dr. Justine Lee, DVM, DACVECC
Associate Director of Veterinary Services www.petpoisonhelpline.com www.drjustinelee.com