Whole Dog Journal is putting out an alert that freshwater ponds, lakes and streams could be deadly to your swimming dog if they contain toxins borne by blue-green algae.
This algae can occur in many water areas year-round but especially during the late summer or early fall. This type of algae thrives during warm and sunny days in shallow, nutrient rich bodies of water. The algae produces a toxin and this can cause serious illness or death in dogs when they ingest it.
If your pet comes in contact with a bloom, wash off your petâ€™s coat to prevent the pet from ingesting the algae while self-cleaning. If you suspect the animal is sick from the algae, call a veterinarian immediately. Be cautious and careful this summer when your dog takes a dip in the ponds, lakes, and streams around your area.
More on the alert for swimming dogs after the jump.
From Whole Dog Journal:
The dangers of a â€œtoxic bloomâ€ of blue-green algae are well known in some states. According to a website published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, certain environmental conditions that generally occur late in summer can trigger a sudden overgrowth of a certain family of algae called cyanobacteria. This type of algae occurs in many aquatic environments year-round, but may thrive to a dangerous degree in during periods of sustained warm, sunny days in shallow, nutrient rich bodies of water. In these conditions, the blue-green algae suddenly â€œbloomsâ€ â€“ that is, reproduces exponentially. The algae produce a powerful toxin â€“ one of the most powerful natural poisons known. The state of Minnesota warns its citizens about this hazard, stating that the blue-green algae blooms are occasionally responsible for the deaths of livestock and dogs who drink contaminated water.
Dog owners should be aware that toxic algae blooms usually occur in late summer or early fall, but can occur at any time. They can occur in marine, estuarine, and (especially) fresh water. The latter are of the greatest concern to dog owners, as dogs are commonly taken to ponds, lakes, and reservoirs in the summer for recreation, exercise, and cooling — and they routinely drink the water. Some of these algae blooms look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of the water. The blooms can be blue, bright green, brown, or red (â€œred tideâ€ is perhaps the best-known so-called â€œharmful algal bloomâ€) â€“ but some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. The water may or may not smell bad. As a further difficulty to dog owners trying to protect their dogs, not all algal blooms are toxic!
When an algal bloom is toxic, obviously, it can kill or seriously sicken an animal, sometimes as quickly as within 15 or 20 minutes of ingestion. The effects depend on the amount ingested, the size of the animal, the amount of food in the animalâ€™s stomach (a full stomach has some protective effect), the sensitivity of the species and individual animal, and the amount of toxin present in the bloom.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, â€œAn animal that has ingested toxins from an algae bloom can show a variety of symptoms, ranging from skin irritation or vomiting to severe disorders involving the circulatory, nervous and digestive systems, and severe skin lesions. In the worst case, the animal may suffer convulsions and die.”