Black Country Bugle

Algae poses a dog threat

- PAMPERED PETS DR DAVID GRANT Our vet offers his advice

QMy local council has put up warning notices by the lake in the park where I exercise my two dogs. The notices advise people not to let their dogs swim there because of toxic blue-green algae. What signs of illness do I need to look for?

AIt’s good that the council is advising dog walkers to keep their pets out of contaminat­ed water because by the time signs of toxicity are seen, in severe cases, it is too late to save the affected dog.

The algae is actually clumps of a particular toxin-producing bacteria known as cyanobacte­ria. Under favourable conditions, after a period of warm weather and absence of rain, the bacteria clump together forming a pea soup-like scum on the surface, especially if the water is stagnant.

This may appear as foam at the edges, and although it is possible all year round, it is late summer and early autumn when the danger is greatest, and why many warning notices appear at this time of year.

Not all cyanobacte­ria produce toxins, and there is no way of knowing which ones are dangerous for dogs. It is best to heed warning signs and avoid contaminat­ed areas altogether.

There are two main toxins involved, one affecting the liver and the other the central nervous system. Dogs ingest toxins by drinking, swimming, or by grooming themselves after contact.

Signs of toxicity could include vomiting and diarrhoea, drooling, weakness, muscle tremors, difficulty breathing, seizures, paralysis and collapse, often appearing quickly.

The outlook is poor, even with intensive treatment, and unfortunat­ely there is no known antidote.

We have taken on a slightly battered old tomcat. He has adopted us and is quite friendly, so we assume he had been abandoned. We are feeding him up prior to getting him neutered. He has a swollen chin with black spots and a straggly greasy tail. Have you any experience of this?

AIt does sound as though he has adopted you, and some cats, especially older ones, have an uncanny knack of selecting only the best homes for their retirement.

Your vet will probably want to do a few preliminar­y checks when you arrive for your appointmen­t.

As the cat is un-neutered it is unlikely that the previous owners, if he had any, bothered to get him microchipp­ed. A quick scan will confirm this.

Depending on the physical examinatio­n, some blood tests before the anaestheti­c for neutering might be advised. Tomcats have a higher incidence of feline immunodefi­ciency virus (FIV), for example. Also a general blood count, including liver and kidney function tests, may detect any diseases.

There are several possible causes of the chin swelling, but the most likely one in a tomcat with blackheads is acne. It is more often seen in older unneutered cats, sometimes due to a failure of grooming and an abnormalit­y of the sebaceous glands.

The tail problem could have a similar cause, a condition called “stud tail”, associated with excessive sebaceous secretion.

Both conditions can be treated with a good prognosis.

 ?? ?? Keep your dogs out of contaminat­ed water
Keep your dogs out of contaminat­ed water
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