Dog Owners: Beware of Toxic Blue-Green Algae

For many, a day at the lake is the perfect way to spend a hot summer day. Tragically, this recently hasn’t been the case for an increasing number of dog owners. The alert over toxic blue-green algae is spreading after multiple dogs in the U.S. have died suddenly after going for swims. Toxic blue-green algae can be found all over the U.S. – including Missouri.

Unfortunately, it isn’t just lakes you have to watch out for. Pet Poison Helpline explains, “Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) are microscopic bacteria found in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water ecosystems.” Continuing, “They can produce toxins (such as microcystins and anatoxins) that affect people, livestock and pets that swim in and drink from the algae-contaminated water.”

According to Pet Poison Helpline, “While most blue-green algae blooms do not produce toxins, it is not possible to determine the presence of toxins without testing. Thus, all blooms should be considered potentially toxic. Very small exposures, such a few mouthfuls of algae-contaminated water, may result in fatal poisoning.”

GreenWater Laboratories – a private, full-service lab focusing strictly on cyanobacteria and the toxins they produce – states on their website, “The most sensitive individuals to algal toxin poisoning are those that ingest cyanobacteria when they are in the water. Many times, those individuals are dogs, since they are entering and exiting algal blooms at shorelines. It is a good idea to keep pets out of the water when cyanobacteria may be present.”

Sadly, there is currently no cure for the toxins produced by blue-green algae. If you believe your dog may have been exposed, immediate veterinary care is crucial. Contact the Pet Poison Helpline at first signs of exposure for guidance.

Common symptoms to watch for include:

  • Lethargy/loss of appetite
  • Vomiting and/or Diarrhea
  • Collapse/Inability to walk
  • Pale or Jaundice (yellow) gums
  • Seizures/Tremors
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Hyper-salivation

Your friends at The Barkery recommend avoiding all areas where your furry family member may be exposed to blue-green algae. Be aware, use caution and keep your dog safe!