Canine cyanotoxin poisonings in the United States (1920s-2012): Review of suspected and confirmed cases from three data sources

Lorraine C. Backer, Jan H. Landsberg, Melissa Miller, Michael K Keel, Tegwin K. Taylor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Cyanobacteria (also called blue-green algae) are ubiquitous in aquatic environments. Some species produce potent toxins that can sicken or kill people, domestic animals, and wildlife. Dogs are particularly vulnerable to cyanotoxin poisoning because of their tendency to swim in and drink contaminated water during algal blooms or to ingestalgal mats. Here, we summarize reports of suspected or confirmed canine cyanotoxin poisonings in the U.S. from three sources: (1) The Harmful Algal Bloom-related Illness Surveillance System (HABISS) of the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); (2) Retrospective case files from a large, regional veterinary hospital in California; and (3) Publicly available scientific and medical manuscripts; written media; and web-based reports from pet owners, veterinarians, and other individuals. We identified 231 discreet cyanobacteria harmful algal bloom (cyanoHAB) events and 368 cases of cyanotoxin poisoning associated with dogs throughout the U.S. between the late 1920s and 2012. The canine cyanotoxin poisoning events reviewed here likely represent a small fraction of cases that occur throughout the U.S. each year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1597-1628
Number of pages32
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2013


  • Anatoxin
  • Blue-green algae
  • Canine
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Cyanotoxin
  • Dog
  • Hepatotoxin
  • Microcystin
  • Neurotoxin poisoning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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