Heartbroken pet owner warns about blue-green algae danger


Jan Egginton, from Worcestershire, is urging pet owners to be vigilant against blue-green algae after her two-year-old Flat Coated Retriever’s death. The dog, called Cove, was exposed to the substance at the side of Wimbleball Lake on Exmoor – and passed away less than 45 minutes later.

Analysis led by Dr Andrew Turner, from the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) confirmed that Cove was exposed to anatoxins, which are found in such blue-green algae blooms, causing rapid poisoning and ultimately resulting in Cove’s death – the first time in the UK that such an incident has been scientifically confirmed, according to the Kennel Club.

Cove was killed by blue-green algae in less than a hour
Cove and Paul Egginton

Jan says, “Cove was unforgettable. He was so much more than just a dog. My husband first realized all was not well when Cove started staggering as he walked back from the lake, and by the time I’d caught up with them, he was already paralysed. The frightening aspect to me is that something so dangerous, that was not even in the water, can kill your dog in 45 minutes.

“We are so careful with our dogs, we think about them in everything we do; we know all of the poisonous foods and plants, and were very aware of blue-green algae, but one lick of the fish was enough. If Cove’s story can make others more aware of the dangers not just in, but also around the water and saves lives as a result, then the pain of sharing his story will be worthwhile.”

The Kennel Club is helping Jan share Cove’s story in hopes to spare more dogs from the same fate, advising owners to be aware of how to identify blue-green algae, and to not let their dogs swim or drink from it, or enter it themselves.

Incidents of blue-green algae should be reported to the Environment Agency via its incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60.

The signs of blue-green algae can include:

  • Water that appears a different colour, often resembling pea soup, although it can even be red, brown or black
  • Blooms are not always large and can sometimes be seen in smaller areas close to the shore
  • The water may smell musty, earthy or grassy and you may sometimes see foam along the shoreline

You can read more about blue-green algae, how it differs from normal algae and why is it dangerous, here. If you think your dog has been poisoned by blue-green algae, take your dog to the vet urgently, and if possible, call ahead to the vet to let them know what the issue is, as cyanobacteria poisoning requires rapid treatment.

Incidents of blue-green algae should also be reported to the Environment Agency via its 24-hour incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60.


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