Beware Blue-Green Algae


Summer is a great time to jump in the lake – not only for people, but for our four-legged friends. Sometimes, we let our dogs into water that we ourselves wouldn’t go into because it is perhaps a little “yucky.” That can be a mistake. The slimy blue-green coating on a pond or lake can be toxic not only to humans, but also to our pets.

Recently a dog died in Douglas County from blue-green algae poisoning.

“The danger here is that both of these toxins are very dangerous,” said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, Associate Director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Hot Line. “So, it does not take an ingestion of very much water with blue-green algae in it to potentially be fatal to an animal or certainly to cause very significant sickness.”

blue-green algae MinnesotaYou may wonder what blue-green algae looks like. Good question!

Blue-green algae can be hard to distinguish from other types of algae. While it’s often described as looking like pea soup or spilled green paint, it can take other forms as well.  The photos shown here is one example of what the clue-green algae (cyanobacteria) can look like, although it can also be much thinner or transparent looking.

When in doubt, keep your pets (and your children) out of the algae bloom. Dogs usually become sick after drinking the algae-water, so if you observe symptoms such as nausea or vomiting, contact your veterinarian or emergency veterinarian right away. Dogs may be saved by quick medical action. It is an emergency situation, so don’t hesitate.

Source: KARE11, “Dog dies from blue-green algae poisoning,” June 8, 2015

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