Emergency vets and vet nurses come to the rescue of critically-ill Tala

A play in a pond almost cost Border Collie Tala her life.

The four-year-old was left critically ill by the lethal blue green algae in the water.

Owner Russell Moody feared he’d said his final farewell to his beloved pet. But the desperately ill dog, just moments from death, was miraculously brought back to life by our team at Vets Now in Lincoln.

Now Russell is backing warning calls about the deadly dangers of the algae, which has blossomed in the recent hot weather. And he’s urging owners not to waste a moment in getting help if their pet gets into trouble.

Russell had taken Tala and sister Harli for a walk on farmland near their rural home in Dunham-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire, when disaster struck.

“There’s a beck and a pond and they were playing happily in and around the water for about an hour,” said greenkeeper Russell, 56.

“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.

“It was a real emergency run to get help just as quickly as I could.”

Our 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. “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.”

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.

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Image of Tala the Border Collie for Vets Now article on blue green algae warning for dog owners
Tala's owner had been walking her and her sister Harli when disaster struck

Tala was given an injection to make her sick and bring up the algae and was put on oxygen and intravenous fluids. But with her condition critical, it looked like staff may have to make the toughest decision.

“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.”

Image of Tala the Border Collie for Vets Now article on blue green algae warning for dog owners
Tala and owner Russell

Russell hadn’t been aware of the algae dangers in the water 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.”