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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Red tide symptoms in dogs can be severe

March 16, 2023
By Boca Beacon Reader

To the Editor:

I am writing in response to Boca Grande pet owner concerns about the ongoing ‘red-tides’ or harmful algal blooms on their animals. For many of us, we may experience a cough, burning eyes, headaches and some even slight skin rashes. It is no wonder that our four-legged family members are also affected.

 How does Brevotoxin affect our pets? In consultation with the Pet Poison Helpline, recent reports indicate local pets are presenting to emergency clinics with signs ranging from skin irritation to neurological signs. Clinical signs show up quickly (30-60 minutes) post exposure and are severe. 

 What signs are pets showing from exposure via ingestion?  Companion animals may show central nervous, cardiac, and/or gastrointestinal (GI) system signs. This may include being off balance, tremors, seizures, muscle fasciculations, GI upset, changes in heart rate and blood pressure. 

 What to do if your pet is showing any of the signs above? Contact your veterinarian or an urgent care facility immediately. A veterinarian will likely perform a physical exam, evaluate blood work, monitor blood pressure, and observe your pet for at least 12 hours. Over this time frame they will provide symptomatic and supportive care. 

 It is prudent to keep your pet away from possible toxin exposure and develop a plan to deal with the adverse health effects associated with these red-tide events for your companion animals.

Sarah Babcock, DVM

The Island Vet

Editor’s Note: For more information, please join Dr. Babcock on Tuesday, April 4 from 10 to 11 a.m. in the Woman’s Club Room at the Boca Grande Community Center, where she will present on the topic of “The Aging Dog,” leaving some time at the end for questions and answers.