- Toxic cyanobacteria aka blue-green algae is primarily a concern during the summer months, when can be found in small lakes or ponds.
The organism varies in color and symptoms may start appearing in dogs within minutes to hours, causing brain, liver, and kidney damage.
- It's important to look out for warning signs about algae, rinse off dogs after swimming, and carefully monitor pets afterwards.
August marks the unofficial end of summer and a light at the tunnel for dog owners who worry about their pets overheating and becoming dehydrated during the hottest time of the year. But there’s a new danger that dog parents should be aware of: Blue-green algae .
At least seven dogs have reportedly been poisoned by toxic cyanobacteria aka blue-green algae, after spending prolonged periods of time in containment water, commonly found in small lakes and ponds. The aquatic plant has caused the deaths of three dogs in Texas and one in Georgia. The most recent incident occurred in North Carolina affecting three pups from the same family.
“We are gutted. I wish I could do today over. I would give anything to have one more day with them,” Melissa Martin wrote in a Facebook post on August 9 . “What started out as a fun night for them has ended in the biggest loss of our lives.”
When the blue-green algae blooms, it may look like foam or spilled paint that varies in color ranging from blue-green to red to brown. According to the Centers of Disease Control , it produces toxins that cause damage to the brain, liver, and kidneys if an animal swims in it or drinks it. The blooms may also give off a pungent or musty smell , and even when the algae has dissipated, toxins can still remain in the water. In Melissa’s case, she took her three dogs to a pond that was “ crystal clear .”
Synonyms of exposure to cyanotoxins can start appearing within minutes to hours, including difficulty breathing, fatigue, excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. Now, Melissa has made it her mission to put warning signs in place.
Here are other ways to protect your dog from blue-green algae:
- Avoid water that appears to be cloudy, contains floating particles, or has green algae near the surface.
- If you’re unsure about a pond or lake being safe, you should avoid it.
- Rinse off pets after swimming.
- Pay attention to animals for any warning signs and if a dog begins to show symptoms, call a vet.
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