Ironically, this article was emailed to me by another resource. I wonder if it had anything to do with Cocoa's death since the family lives on Walled Lake and Cocoa played fetch often in the lake. . .
Cross posting from MIDogs, with permission. Denise
On Monday, June 25, 2007 I took my healthy 9 month old Border Collie
Vita swimming at approximately 6:30 p.m. Vita and two other BC's spent
about an hour and a half diving off the dock, chasing the Water Kong,
and running around. The temperature that day was just over 90
degrees, but none of the dogs looked particularly winded or hot.
Vita emerged from the water and looked as if she was going to vomit.
She threw up lake water three times. I wasn't't particularly
concerned as she took in a lot of water from retrieving and swimming
so much and had seen other dogs do that in the past without
After the third time throwing up, she lay down and closed her eyes.
Her tongue was hanging out of her mouth and I began to suspect she
may have heat stroke. I immediately placed ice on her stomach and
checked her gums. They were pink. I took her temperature whi ch was
101.9, still normal. I then called my Vet who said these conditions
did not indicate heat stroke and said I needed to get emergency
medical attention right away.
Vita was not responsive and when I picked her up to put her in the
car she was limp and her eyes were still closed. Her breathing was
slow and her heart was racing. I arrived at the emergency clinic only
a half hour from the time
she showed signs of distress. The ER Vet asked me what sorts of
things Vita had been doing all day. I explained that she was crated
as I was gone for the latter part of the afternoon and that upon
coming home, the only other place she went was to the lake.
Vita's eyes were fixed and dilated and the Vet suggested there was
already brain damage. After administering an IV and oxygen, the Vet
called me in and said Vita was not responding and that it appeared
that she was suffering from some kind of toxic poisoning. H er heart
rate was 200. He mentioned that he had recently seen a couple of dogs
who died from Blue Green Algae Toxicity. I told him that the lake had
what appeared to be algae blooms on the surface of the water. Neither
of the other two dogs showed any of the signs that Vita had and that
neither dog took in as much water as Vita apparently did. We
decided to put her on a ventilator overnight and give her a "chance"
to pull through.
When I got home I did a Dogpile.com search of "Blue Green Algae
Toxicity in Dogs" and found some very disturbing information.
-Blooms can occur at any time, but most often occur in late summer or
early fall. They can occur in marine, estuarine, and fresh waters,
but the blooms of greatest concern are the ones that occur in fresh
water, such as drinking water reservoirs or recreational waters.
-Some cyanobacterial blooms can look like foam, scum, or mats on the
surface of fresh water lakes and ponds. The blooms can be blue,
bright green, brown, or red and may look like paint floating on the
water. Some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. As
algae in a cyanobacterial bloom die, the water may smell bad.
-Some cyanobacteria that can form CyanoHABs (Harmful Algal Blooms)
produce toxins that are among the most powerful natural poisons
known. These toxins have no known antidotes.
-Swallowing water that has cyanobacterial toxins in it can cause
acute, severe gastroenteritis (including diarrhea and vomiting).
-Liver toxicity (i.e., increased serum levels of liver enzymes).
Symptoms of liver poisoning may takes hours or days to show up in
people or animals. Symptoms include abdominal pain, diarrhea, and
-Neurotoxicity. These symptoms can appear within 15 to 20 m inutes
after exposure. In dogs, the neurotoxins can cause salivation and
other neurologic symptoms, including weakness, staggering, difficulty
breathing, convulsions, and death. People may have numb lips,
tingling fingers and toes, or they may feel dizzy.
Vita had indeed exhibited salivation and signs of weakness,
staggering, difficulty breathing and vomiting.
At 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 26, 2007 I called the Vet and was told
that they took Vita off the ventilator a couple of times during the
night and that she was not breathing on her own. I told him to
discontinue the procedure and to let her go.
I called the DNR here in Michigan and was told that Blue Green Algae
didn't usually appear this time of year and I told the agent that the
conditions were that of late summer in Michigan, very hot for the
last two days and reminded him that Blue Green Algae can appear at
any time. He told me not to panic or to alarm other people. I told
him that had someone else panicked, we wouldn't be having this
conversation right now.
Later that morning I found out from a neighbor that her two young
boys had vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps last week and her
Doctor suggested she bring in a water sample. I do not know if she
did or not.
I also talked to a woman from a neighboring county whose neighbor's
dog ingested a lot of water from a pond and died suddenly a couple
As of this writing, Wednesday, June 27th, I have not heard anything
from Michigan State where I took Vita for a necropsy and
For the time being, I would strongly suggest you watch your dogs when
swimming in small lakes and ponds as the potential threat of toxic
poisoning from Blue Green Algae is prevalent. Had I known that algae
of any kind was toxic, you can be sure my dogs wouldn't be swimming
anywhere and that Vita, whose name quite ironically meant "life" in
Latin, would be alive today.
Missing you more than you can imagine.
May you rest in peace, Red Top Vita
09/05/06 - 06/26/07
5997 Mabley Hill Road
Fenton, Michigan 48430
PERMISSION TO CROSS-POST