Toxic Algae is killing our dogs

There’s a killer lurking in our waters. And it’s threatening our canine friends. No, it’s not the Lochness Monster. It’s cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae. Maybe you’ve read about it in the news in recent days. It has now affected dogs in 15 states across the country. I have a feeling that number is about to grow.

Three dogs died after frolicking in a pond in North Carolina. Another dog passed away after swimming in a river in Texas. An hour after swimming in a lake in Georgia, a border collie passed away. In every case, it was only a matter of minutes before the dogs were not acting like themselves and rushed to the emergency veterinarian hospital. 

What started out as a play date or a fun afternoon ended with tragedy and a warning to other dog owners. Be careful out there. 

The algae can be found in freshwater lakes, ponds streams and brackish water. This includes backyard fountains and birdbaths. Not all blue-green algae produces toxins, but even very small exposure to contaminated water can be fatal. Even if your dog doesn’t swim, just getting water on his body, then licking it off is all it takes for exposure to result in death. 

Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, drooling, disorientation, seizures, and collapsing. The ultimate cause of death is often liver failure. Seek immediate medical care if you suspect your dog has ingested the toxin. There is no antidote for blue-green algae poisoning and because the poisons enter the system so quickly, it is often too late by the time you reach a vet hospital. But if you get treatment early enough, it is possible to rid the body of the toxins. 

Blue-green algae grows in hot, humid climates where the water is warm. Typically they are found in slow moving waters that are rich in nutrients from sources such as fertilizer runoff or septic tank overflows. Algae blooms can take place anytime, but usually they occur in the late summer or early fall. 

When in doubt, stay out. The best advice is to stay away from any body of water you suspect might have this algae. Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. And not all blue-green algae has the toxin cyanotoxin in it, you can’t tell if it does just by looking at the algae. 

terrier mix near pond