Toxic Blue-Green Algae

Pet Owners Beware!

Toxic Blue-Green Algae Blooms Are Dangerous for Your Pets.

Algae is present naturally in rivers, ponds, lakes and even puddles. When conditions are ripe, including high temperatures and sun exposure in the summer and fall, they can turn rapidly into blooms with high concentrations of toxins. These toxins are dangerous for your pets, particularly to dogs as they are more likely to ingest the toxic algae by drinking the water and by grooming themselves after exposure. Exposure can lead to illness and death.

What are Blue-Green Algae blooms?

Blue-green algae are cyanobacteria, which are microscopic bacteria found in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and marine water. When they bloom, they produce toxins that affect people and pets that swim in and drink from the algae-contaminated water.

Where are they found?

The algae can be found in fresh and marine water—lakes, ponds, swimming pools, decorative ponds, even puddles.

How to identify Blue-Green Algae

In most instances, you can see the algae on the surface of the water. It often looks like spilled paint or pea soup, and can form a mat, scum or foam on the surface of the water. Toxic algae can be blue, green, brown or red, but most blooms are blue-green in color and are accompanied by a foul odor. Some toxic algae are invisible to the eye or can accumulate at the shore in dry, concentrated form.

What to do if you think your pet has been exposed

Seek veterinary help immediately. Symptoms can occur in as little as 15 minutes or can take several days to appear. The EPA reports symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting, weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing, and convulsions or seizures.

When in doubt, keep them out!

Your best defense against toxic algae blooms is to minimize exposure. Use a leash to keep your dog out of the water, avoid shorelines where algae have washed up, don’t allow your pet to lick their fur if they have been in high-risk areas, and if you think your pet has been exposed, wash with clean water immediately and seek veterinary care.