What is blue-green algae and is it dangerous? | TeamDogs

What is blue-green algae and is it dangerous?

Keep your dog away from water if you suspect it may have blue-green algae

Charlotte Regen

Posted 4 months ago

It can be tempting to take your dogs for a swim during the hot weather or let them drink from a pond. 

However, drinking from freshwater lakes and ponds can be risky. 

Blue-green algae can be found floating on water surfaces and is toxic to your dog. 

Be aware that toxic blooms are often blown to the edges of the water, so dogs and other animals can be exposed to them even if they haven’t gone in for a swim or paddle.

But remember even if there’s no visible scum or foam on the surface of the water, it doesn’t mean blue-green algae isn’t present. 

The blue-green algae can be suspended at various depths, depending on the conditions. The bacteria has also been found on surfaces near water after being blown by the wind.

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae it's important to contact your vet straight away or an out of hours practice. There is no antidote for the toxins produced by blue-green algae so early, aggressive veterinary treatment is essential for the best chance of success.

Dr Laura Playforth, professional standards director at Vets Now and one of the UK’s leading emergency vets, says dogs who need to be treated for blue-green algae poisoning could need intensive care. However, it will depend on the level of toxins your dog has been exposed to.

“It’s likely they will be given oxygen and intravenous fluids to help flush the toxins from the body,” she said.

“Your dog may also require intensive care and medication for seizures, respiratory distress or liver failure. Thankfully, surviving pets do have a good chance for recovery” 

Dr Playforth advises that dog owners should never let their dog swim in or drink from water sources they suspect may be contaminated by blue-green algae.

Advice on the Vets Now website says you should always wash your dogs thoroughly after swimming outside.

You should avoid going near any ponds or lakes that are known, or suspected, to contain blue-green algae and ensure your pet does not have access to contaminated water. 

Remember, algal blooms have even been known to appear in garden ponds. If there are blue-green algae warning signs in the area you’re walking, keep your dog by your side.

If you have any concerns you should contact your vets.


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