Friday, June 29, 2007

Water Dangers

This is from an e-mail forwarded to me by several people today, and I had never heard of this, so I wanted to alert anyone I could:

"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 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 complications.

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 which 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. Her 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 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 vomiting.
  • Kidney toxicity.
  • Neurotoxicity. These symptoms can appear within 15 to 20 minutes 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 weeks ago.

As of this writing, Wednesday, June 27th, I have not heard anything from Michigan State where I took Vita for a necropsy and toxicological panel.

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 Vita09/05/06 - 06/26/07

Bob Tatus
Fenton, Michigan


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Tired Hounds...

are good hounds.

We just got back from our five days in Mackinaw City. I have much to tell, but look for that later this week. But suffice it to say the dogs probably won't get off the couch for a few days!

And we returned to 8 voice mails and over 300 e-mails... makes me want to high tail it up to the north again!!

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Worst Part About Camping...

... is coming home. Someday I want to do at least one week of camping and see if I get sick of it then. I doubt it.

Sparky, however, loves to come home. Don't get me wrong, he likes to camp. He gets lots of attention and scrap food. He gets to sleep in my bed (he doesn't get to do this at home). However, he doesn't like to defecate outside of our yard. He used to when he went to daycare every day, but now he waits it out. So I don't know what he's going to do on our extended trips!

We went to Jellystone in Holly. It really is a great little park! I didn't expect to like it as much as I do. They always have reservations, and this weekend it was empty and quiet. I had told some camping friends of ours - that don't have kids - that I would probably only recommend it to other families with children. But after this weekend I changed my mind. Even if an adult group was looking for a quick get away, you could request to be away from the other campers and playgrounds and have a nice, serene area.

We went with our friends Kathy & Scott and their kids, and we did a lot more activities this time. There were hayrides, crafts, candy bar bingo and swimming. One of us would always stay back with the dogs and the baby, but that is beauty of going with friends. There was always some adult or kids willing to join you for whatever activity you wanted to do.

The dogs and I also found a great little network of trails around the campground, and spent some time exploring that.

And we also did more campfire cooking. Here's my "live and learn" tip from this camping trip: When cooking on the fire, the dogs should be in their ex-pen, as the smells of food outweigh the heat from the fire. They wanted to help themselves to the Dutch Oven and it's contents. Sparky DID get some apple pie fill that we were using for campers pie.

We are headed up to Mackinaw City for four nights this weekend! I am already trying to pack and prep the food. I found this great site called Chuckwagon Diner and I already have a few things in mind. I want to try:

Beef Beer & Ginger Ale - I can prep this one Friday morning and pack it and use it Friday or Saturday.

Grog Cakes - Interesting, and something the dogs & kids would both like too!

Yummmmm. Sorry off topic a bit, but who doesn't love to eat!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pets in our National Parks

This is courtesy of ...The pet travel resource on the internet. Featuring 39,000+ pet friendly places to stay and free pet travel guides and newsletter. I get their e-mailed newsletter, and liked this article:

Pets in our National Parks

In general, pets are permitted but must be restrained either on a leash not exceeding 6 feet in length, caged or crated at all times. Park Superintendents and Managers have the discretion to further restrict areas open to pets (i.e., trails, buildings, campgrounds may be off limits).

Restrictions on pets in parks are as much to protect your pet as to protect park resources. Following are some of the reasons parks give for regulating the presence of pets:
  • When a loose pet chases a squirrel or raccoon, the wild animal's ability to survive is threatened, and when it is threatened, it may react aggressively.
  • There is a strong possibility in parks such as Yellowstone that your pet could become prey for bear, coyote, owl, or other predators.
  • There is a possibility of exchange of diseases between domestic animals and wildlife.
  • Dogs, the most common traveling companion, are natural predators that may harass or even kill native wildlife that is protected within the park's boundaries.
  • The "scent of a predator" that dogs leave behind can disrupt or alter the behavior of native animals.
  • Pets may be hard to control, even on a leash, within confines of often narrow park trails and may trample or dig up fragile vegetation.
  • Dog and cat feces add excessive nutrients and bacterial pollution to water, which decreases water quality and can also cause human health problems.
  • Finally, lost domestic animals sometimes turn to preying on park wildlife and must be destroyed.

It is always best to check with the park(s) you are planning to visit for specific information and restrictions for pets.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

First Aid for Pets

No Camping for me this weekend :-(

But I had a good reason! I attended a First Aid Seminar for Pets. I did this because I am a dog trainer, but as I was taking notes I realized how important it was to know Pet First Aid when you take your dog camping.

This course covered a wide range of topics,such as rescue breathing and CPR. But we also learned how to care for our dogs when they experience things such as heatstroke, snake bites, fractures. This is ESPECIALLY important when you are in an area where it would take a while to get to a vet.

I would recommend a course like this one to ALL dog (and cat) owners. If you live in Metro-Detroit visit First Aid 4 Paws. They taught the course I took and it was very in-depth. I hope to take thier longer course this fall.

If you live elsewhere, check this site for a referral to a PetTech instructor in your state: