Diagnosis of anatoxin-a poisoning in dogs from North America

Birgit Puschner, Brent Hoff, Elizabeth R. Tor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

66 Scopus citations


Anatoxin-a, a toxin produced by several genera of blue-green algae, is considered a potent neurotoxin. Ingestion of water contaminated with the toxin results in acute neurological signs and often death. This report describes fatal cases of anatoxin-a ingestion in 6 dogs, with confirmation of anatoxin-a exposure by liquid chromatography/tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS/MS). In 1 outbreak, 3 dogs developed seizures and died within an hour after swimming in a river in California, while the other outbreak involved 3 dogs that died within 1 hour after swimming in a pond in Ontario. Anatoxin-a poisoning is rarely reported in dogs as a cause of acute neurological signs and death. However, increased occurrences of blue-green algae blooms in North America make this neurotoxin an important consideration in the diagnosis of sudden death associated with environmental water exposure. This brief communication reports on the isolation and detection of anatoxin-a from environmental water sources and the stomach contents of North American dogs dying of acute neurotoxicosis. This demonstrates the first documented cases of anatoxin-a poisoning in dogs in North America and the importance of LC-MS/MS/MS in identifying neurotoxins responsible for sudden death in cases of suspected blue-green algae toxicosis; especially those cases showing no gross or histological lesions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)89-92
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Veterinary Diagnostic Investigation
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2008


  • Anatoxin-a
  • Blue-green algae
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Dogs
  • Liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry
  • Neurotoxic
  • Toxicosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary(all)


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