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Blue-Green Algae (BGA) can produce fatal toxins and is found in fresh water, including local dog walking spot Tatton Mere, as well as in brackish and marine bodies of water. There are many species of BGA, some of which will produce a variety of toxic compounds that can affect nerves and the liver. The toxins have a high acute toxicity and contact is often fatal, especially around the water’s edge where algal scum may form.

“Tatton Park very sensibly display signs alerting dog walkers to the presence of BGA in their waters, especially during periods of sunny weather when it may form large algal blooms,” said said Rachel Caines, veterinary surgeon at Knutsford Vets in Cheshire. “Due to the toxicity of BGA it is strongly recommended to walk dogs on a lead near the mere and other stretches of water with a BGA risk following sunny weather.”

Treating Bailey the Staffie Cross with BGA

Bailey, a one-and-a-half-year-old Staffordshire Cross, enjoys his twice daily walks Around Tatton Park and had never previously shown any interest in the water. Unfortunately, the day before being presented to Paul and the team at Knutsford Veterinary Surgery, he ingested some of the contaminated water before his owners could stop him.

That same evening Bailey started vomiting and became lethargic. He was brought to the emergency clinic the following day, weak and collapsed with a very high temperature. Bailey was visibly deteriorating by the hour and the time since he ingested the algae meant treatment was more complicated.

“Unfortunately, since he was seen that day after ingesting the algae, giving emetics to make Bailey sick was no longer of benefit,” said Rachel. “In a more acutely presented case this would be the normal course of treatment followed with activated charcoal, administered orally, to bind the remaining toxins.”

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Initially, in-house bloods were taken which confirmed Bailey’s liver was affected and the toxins had caused inflammation around his body. Intravenous fluids were given to replace those he had lost along with medicines to try to halt the inflammatory process. Regular neurological examinations, alongside close monitoring of his breathing and cardiovascular system were undertaken to check that he was responding well to treatment.

Slowly but surely over the following 24 hours, Bailey improved and after 36 hours of hospitalisation he was stabilised and discharged for ongoing TLC and medication at home. Follow-up blood tests showed Bailey had made a full recovery with his liver parameters back to normal.

“We’re so pleased we took Bailey to Knutsford Vets when we did as he was going downhill rapidly,” said Bailey’s relieved owners. “We hope Bailey’s story can highlight the dangers of Blue-green Algae and prevent others from falling ill like he did.”

Blue-Green algae affects both humans and animals throughout the warmer months. Should your pet exhibit any of the symptoms, including skin and eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhoea and high fever contact Knutsford Veterinary Surgery.

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