Dog owner’s warning as pet left ‘moments from death’ after swimming in pond with toxic algae

Tala now, and right, with Russell (Picture: Vets Now)

Russell Moody took Tala the Border Collie and her sister Harli for a walk and let them swim in a pond to cool off.

But Russell had no idea that playing in the water would be harmful, as Tala was poisoned by algae and nearly died.

Vets told him she was moments from death because she had come into contact with blue green algae.

Blue green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are tiny organisms typically found in freshwater lakes, ponds, reservoirs and slow-moving rivers.

It blooms on the surface and is highly toxic to dogs, commonly causing vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, breathing difficulties and coma. It can lead to liver damage and death.

Luckily, Tala pulled through but Russell wants to warn other pet owners to be careful as the recent hot water has made the micro-organism blossom.

Explaining what happened when he took the dogs for a walk on farmland near their rural home in Dunham-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, Russell, 56, said: ‘There’s a beck and a pond and they were playing happily in and around the water for about an hour.

‘I noticed Tala squinting and then she started staggering as if her balance had gone. It was such a shock and when I got her home and she couldn’t get out of the car, I really started to panic. 

‘I called my vet and, as it was the evening, I was referred to Vets Now and was told to bring her straight in. By the time I went back to the car she was running at the mouth and she was totally unresponsive. 

Tala is now ok (Picture: Vets Now)

‘It was a real emergency run to get help just as quickly as I could.’ 

The clinic in Lincoln is one of a nationwide network of hospitals and clinics that are open every night, and day and night at weekends and bank holidays for pet emergencies. 

The current Covid-19 restrictions meant Russell had to wait in the car while the staff assessed the situation. 

‘She was in a very bad way,’ said veterinary nurse Alana Taylor at Vets Now emergency clinic in Lincoln. ‘She wasn’t responding to stimulation and her pupils were dilated. We did a radiograph to check her chest was clear as it was thought she may have inhaled water, but we suspected it was blue green algae toxicity due to the quick onset of signs.’ 

Tala was given an injection to make her sick and bring up the algae and was put on oxygen and intravenous fluids.

But despite the hard work of the vets, they still thought they may have to let her go.

‘She was close to having to be put to sleep when, somehow, she suddenly turned a corner,’ said Alana.

‘Her demeanour changed after about three hours and she became aware of her surroundings and wagged her tail when we spoke to her.’

Russell was kept informed throughout and he admits he feared the worst. 

‘I expected to be getting a phone call telling me she’d died,’ said Russell.

‘It really was touch and go and it was unbelievable that she came through it. 

‘I always thought she was such a laid-back dog who just liked to sleep but she proved me wrong. She obviously has something deep inside her and is a real fighter. 

‘It was a magic moment when we heard she was going to be okay and then seeing her again was so special. It was like getting her as a pup all over again. 

‘We can’t thank the staff enough.’

Before the incident, Russell didn’t know about the dangers of algae and is warning other owners to be on the lookout. 

‘I’d definitely advise people to keep their eyes on their dog at all times when near water and take bottled water rather than let them drink from a stagnant pond,’ added Russell.

‘And don’t delay if you see any signs. If I hadn’t had the car with me, it could all have been over by the time I got her home. We were really lucky.’

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