Recent instances of pet blue-green algae intoxications are concerning. Many pet owners are unaware of the serious danger that these poisons represent to animals, and it’s simple to ignore. We want to make sure you know everything you need to know to keep pets safe during this recent rise in blue-green algae instances.
In freshwater bodies of water, blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) are most likely to flourish when the temperature is warm (over 75 degrees) and sunny. Summertime is when more people become intoxicated by algae because of the favorable weather for cyanobacteria growth. Due to their extreme toxicity, these organisms have been known to poison dogs, cats, livestock, wildlife, birds, fish, and even humans.
When poisonous algae blooms are present, the water frequently has the appearance of pea-green paint or slime on the surface.
The film will frequently focus along the shoreline in regions where animals may drink or swim if specific wind conditions are present.
When drinking from or even just swimming in contaminated water sources, dogs might become poisoned. Blue-green algae can seriously harm the liver or nervous system if consumed.
Blue-green algae poisoning symptoms include:
- excessive salivation
- respiration difficulty
- a liver problem
- In the end, death
You need to call your veterinarian right away if your dog starts to exhibit any of these signs.
When it comes to any pet poison, prevention is paramount. If there is bluish-green scum on the surface or at the borders of stagnant ponds, lakes, or other bodies of water, don’t let your dogs drink from them.
Take care before letting your pet jump into a body of water and make sure to completely rinse your pet with fresh water after they swim because blue-green algae cells can also attach to a pet’s fur and be ingested when they clean themselves.
Vigilance is also essential because many public health authorities regularly test the water in regions where outbreaks are known to occur and display warning signs when there are issues.
Which algae are dangerous to dogs?
The passing of all three of Melissa Martin’s dogs was announced on August 9, 2019, in Wilmington, North Carolina:
“Our dogs went over the rainbow bridge together at 12:08 a.m. There was nothing they could have done to prevent them from becoming poisoned by blue-green algae. We’re devastated. I wish I could change today.
Morgan Fleming from Marietta, Georgia, submitted the following the next day:
“It’s so hot, we thought this morning. Go to the lake with me! We took our adorable Arya to the lake, where we had the nicest time swimming and playing ball! On the way home, about 30 minutes later, we heard her making strange noises and found that she had puked and pooped in the car. On the way, we called our veterinarian, who advised us to bring her in. Our girl couldn’t barely stand at this point.
A Wilmington-area vet clinic sent out an email alerting pet owners that dogs who consume algae frequently succumb to their injuries.
“Please be mindful of the blue-green algae bloom that is currently occurring in our neighborhood. Blue-green algae blooms can be harmful to dogs and are frequently fatal. The email advises to immediately seek veterinarian care if you believe your pet has come into contact with blue-green algae and to quickly rinse with freshwater.
Having said that, the alleged “Algae are actually a form of cyanobacteria, a type of bacterium. Although cyanobacteria cannot be seen with the human eye, when it collects in water bodies, it frequently resembles algae. When the weather is hot and there is minimal rainfall, this bacteria is frequently discovered in still freshwater. If they aren’t regularly cleaned, beautiful ponds and backyard pools can also develop toxic algae.
How long does it take for algae to make a dog sick?
In as short as 30 to 60 minutes following exposure to the toxins, your dog may exhibit symptoms from any toxin.
Even though microcystin-related symptoms may take up to 12 to 24 hours to manifest, it’s still important to get your dog to the doctor as soon as you can.
You’ll be able to stay away from these algae in an ideal world. However, if your dog has access to water and is out of sight, watch out for these signs:
- Black, tarry, or bloody stools
- pallid mucous surfaces (gums)
- seizures, trembling, rigidity, or paralysis of the muscles
- excessive tears or salivation
- Blue stains on the skin, mucous membranes, and coat
- Having trouble breathing
Find Out If Blue-Green Algae Is In Your Area
There is a ton of information about blue-green algae on the Environmental Working Group website, including the map below, which shows where it has been identified and how it has risen annually through June 23rd, 2022.
How To Test Your Home Pond Or Lake
Here is a simple home test that you may use to determine whether your pond or lake at home may be poisoned. To learn more about lab tests in your area, you can also contact your local health officials.
Algae: Can it harm dogs?
While the majority of algae are safe, some blue-green algae species contain poisons that can instantly kill a dog. Dogs that survive (and are frequently exposed to low amounts of toxins) may experience tumor damage and chronic liver disease, which may not be apparent until it is advanced.
What happens if my dog ingests algal water?
As in numerous unfortunate cases in North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia that made news in August 2019, blue-green algae poisoning can tragically result in death.
What can happen if my dog ingests blue-green algae?
Unfortunately, the harm brought on by consuming the cyanotoxins present in blue-green algae cannot be undone. If you think your dog may have consumed blue-green algae-containing water, call your vet right away or take them to the nearest emergency veterinary clinic. The veterinarian might be able to remove the toxins if they are discovered promptly in order to prevent fatal damage.
Is blue-green algae harmful to humans?
Dogs are more prone to swim in blue-green algae-containing waters than humans, making blue-green algae poisoning more common in dogs than in humans. The discolouration and foul smell in these waterways frequently discourage humans from swimming in them. Dogs are also much more prone than people to consume this water while swimming. Lastly, after swimming, dogs can continue to consume blue-green algae by grooming themselves (i.e. licking their fur and paws).
How can I protect my dog from blue-green algae?
Avoiding swimming in or drinking from any water you suspect may have this dangerous bacterium is the best approach to prevent your dog from coming into contact with blue-green algae. When taking your dog to the beach, lake, pond, or a hiking trail, keep an eye out for any indications of blue-green algae. If your dog swims in any dubious water, make sure to immediately rinse them off with clean water and avoid letting them lick their feet and fur.
Locally, blue-green algae can also be seen. Look for algae blooms in your swimming pools, ornamental ponds, and any other standing water in your backyard; if any are found, keep your family and pets away from the water until it can be cleaned. (If you own a DogWatch Hidden Fence, get in touch with your neighborhood Dealer to have your fence adjusted to keep your dog out of certain locations.)
Always pay attention to any posted warnings or news stories on blue-green algae, and get further information by contacting your local or state health department.
We appreciate you reading and ask that you spread the word about this article to other dog owners.
What does toxic algae resemble?
According to Schmale, toxic algae might appear as foam, scum, or mats on the surface of water. Some people confuse harmful algae blooms, which can be blue, vivid green, brown, or red, for floating paint.
Animals may be drawn to the smell and taste of toxic algae, according to the EPA, despite the fact that they frequently stink and can produce a downright sickening odor.
How is dog algae toxicity treated?
“Treatment options may include providing activated charcoal early to absorb some of the poison and induce vomiting to remove algae. There is no specific treatment; only supportive care is available. According to Dr., IV fluids are typically supplied, along with muscle relaxants or anti-seizure drugs occasionally.
How soon do dogs become ill from blue-green algae?
Blue-green algal blooms can produce dangerous poisons that prevent the liver of a dog from working correctly. Blue-green algae can vary in their level of threat.
Sadly, dogs who survive exposure to harmful blue-green algae may experience long-term health issues as a result of ingesting or swimming in water tainted with the algae. Some varieties of blue-green algae can cause a dog’s death within 15 to 60 minutes after ingesting contaminated water.
Dogs who have been swimming in water risk having the algae ingested later when cleaning themselves because it gets entangled in their fur.
Since it is preferable not to take the chance of letting your dog come into contact with water where the algae may be present, the concentrations of the algae change during the year and may not always be harmful. However, you can’t tell whether or not they are dangerous just by looking at them.
Are green algae dangerous?
Blue-green algae vary in their ability to create poisons. However, when water with blooms is touched, ingested, or when airborne droplets are breathed, exposure to any blue-green algal blooms can have negative health impacts on people and animals. High concentrations of blue-green algae and its toxins might result in allergic reactions, respiratory problems, throat irritation, diarrhoea, and nausea.
Animals that consume huge amounts of water with blooms, scums, or benthic mats may become unwell or die. This can happen to pets and cattle. Consult a veterinarian right once if you observe any signs in your animals. Study more.
Swimming, wading, fishing, or boating in regions where blue-green algae blooms can result in recreational exposures. Exposures can happen when people consume water, come into touch with the skin, eat seafood that has been caught in effected areas, or breathe in airborne droplets.
Exposures can happen while bathing, washing, or taking a shower in surface water that has been impacted by a bloom. Exposures can happen when ingesting or drinking poisons or flowers, coming into contact with the skin, or inhaling airborne droplets.
Recreational or domestic uses of surface water that are not significantly impacted by a blue-green algae bloom are not anticipated to have any negative health effects. People who are more susceptible to the effects of low levels of blue-green algae might, however, experience only minor symptoms.
Drinking Water Exposures
Your neighborhood water supplier safeguards your drinking water if you use a public water system against potential contaminants like blue-green algae and related poisons. Customers of water providers must receive treated, sanitized, and monitored drinking water. Your local water supplier would notify you and give you instructions if contaminants were found in your water supply at levels exceeding those established to protect human health.
Never consume untreated surface water, people. You run the danger of exposure to blue-green algae, algal toxins, and other common drinking water contaminants if you use surface water for drinking, food preparation, cooking, and ice manufacturing while you are not on public water. If you can, connect to the public water system. Or think about having a private well installed by a well driller who is registered with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation. See Harmful Blue-Green Blooms: Understanding the Risks of Piping Surface Water into Your Home for more information. Even if you treat surface water yourself with water filtration, chlorine, ultraviolet (UV) light, or other treatment, your water may still not be shielded from blue-green algae and their toxins.
Drinking water with high concentrations of blue-green algae toxins has been linked to effects on the liver and nervous system in laboratory animals, pets, cattle, and people, in addition to the health problems listed above. Animals have eaten a lot of the collected blue-green algae along shorelines and combed it off of their fur, which has led to livestock and pet mortality. An elevated risk of liver cancer may be linked to long-term ingestion of untreated surface waters with high amounts of blue-green algae toxins, according to some scant data from human research. However, participants in these studies were also exposed to additional risk factors for liver cancer. It is therefore unclear if exposure to algae toxins increased this risk. Blue-green algal blooms in Northeastern waterbodies often don’t endure for very long, thus prolonged exposure to the toxins they produce is uncommon.
How does an algal appear?
When conditions are quiet, algae frequently grow, and they resemble scum on the water’s surface. The algae often have a musty or grassy odor and can be blue-green or greenish-brown in color. Toxins are produced by some blue-green algae species that create blooms. Chemicals that are hazardous may be released into the water as toxic blooms degrade and die.
Can pond algae actually sicken a dog?
While your dog may not always have an issue with a drink from a pond while on a hike or a swim on a hot day, water algae, particularly blue-green algae, can break down and generate natural poisons that can be fatal to your canine companion. Large doses of poisoning are frequently lethal because there are no recognized treatments for these toxins. It is crucial to know what to look for and what to do in the event of unintentional exposure.
Can animals become ill from algae?
Dave Dorman, a professor of toxicology at CVM, offers the following advice on dangerous algae blooms:
- What are HABs, or harmful algal blooms? A type of bacteria called cyanobacteria produces toxic algae that is harmful to dogs and other animals. When these bacteria are able to thrive, an algae bloom happens. Warm temperatures, still water, fertilizer runoff, and other elements are among these circumstances. Any source of water, whether salt or fresh, could become contaminated.
- What effects might toxic algae have on my dog or other animals? Toxic algae release poisons that harm the liver, kidneys, or brain of your animal. Within an hour of an animal drinking or swimming in contaminated water, symptoms of poisoning can appear. Clinical symptoms may take many days to manifest in other situations. By ingesting the contaminated water or licking the algae off of their fur, your pet can become ill. Dogs, cattle, fish, and other animals, as well as wildlife, can become ill from algae poisoning.
- What actions should I take if my pet falls ill? The toxins that the algae create have the potential to be fatal. As soon as your animal exhibits symptoms of illness or something out of the ordinary, take it to your neighborhood vet. Animals poisoned by the algae may exhibit various symptoms such as convulsions, convulsion-like symptoms, convulsion-like panting, drooling, weakness, and vomiting.
- How can I determine whether my dog can safely play in the water? Although you can’t always believe what you see, there are some things that are undeniably dangerous. On the water’s surface, the algae can create rafts or mats. Algae can also resemble paint that is floating in water. The algae might be blue, green, brown, or red in hue. Finding dead animals in or close to water is common because toxic algae can kill fish and birds. Algae can occasionally cause water to smell bad. Do not let your animal drink or play in the water if you notice any of these warning indications.
- Where can I find further details? The Environmental Protection Agency (https://www.epa.gov/cyanohabs) and the Centers for Disease Control (https://www.cdc.gov/habs/index.html) also have websites devoted to hazardous algal blooms.