Is Algae Toxic To Dogs

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:

  • Seizures
  • Panting
  • excessive salivation
  • respiration difficulty
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • 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 type of algae is poisonous 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 soon do dogs become ill from poisonous 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 ( and the Centers for Disease Control ( also have websites devoted to hazardous algal blooms.

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)
  • Jaundice
  • seizures, trembling, rigidity, or paralysis of the muscles
  • Coma
  • 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.

How do you tell if your dog is poisoned by algae?

The following are some of the typical signs of blue-green algal poisoning in dogs, according to the Pet Poison Helpline: Vomiting. Diarrhea. a dark, tarry, or bloody stool

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 does blue-green algae cause a dog to become ill?

The veterinary profession started advising clients about the risk blue-green algae poses to their pets, especially dogs, after several dogs died this past summer after swimming in water tainted by the algae. However, Minnesota and Colorado also reported dog deaths that were thought to be caused by toxic blue-green algae. The majority of the deaths were reported in the southern United States (North Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, and Georgia).

Three dogs belonging to the same pet owners perished after playing in water contaminated with the poisonous blue-green algae, prompting a Wilmington, North Carolina, veterinarian’s office to send out an email alerting pet owners that dogs ingesting algae frequently perish:

Please be informed that blue-green algae are already blooming in our neighborhood. Blue-green algae blooms can be harmful to dogs and are frequently fatal. If you believe your pet has come into contact with blue-green algae, immediately seek veterinarian care and clean with freshwater.

What Is Blue-Green Algae?

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, toxic algae blooms can happen everywhere in the United States and Canada. They can appear in both freshwater and saltwater, and they are not always blue-green; they can also be red and brown. The pond scum or “algae” is actually cyanobacteria. These bacteria can create toxins (such microcystins and anatoxins) that not only harm dogs but also people, animals, and other pets who swim in or drink from water that has been contaminated by algae. Cyanotoxins are potent natural toxins, some of which can quickly result in death from respiratory failure.

Although cyanobacteria cannot be seen with the human eye, when it collects in water bodies, it resembles algae. If they aren’t cleaned frequently, beautiful ponds and backyard pools can likewise get overgrown with toxic algae.

More than 30 different species of cyanobacteria that create four different types of toxicity, including:

  • Hepatotoxin (damages the liver)
  • Neurotoxin (destroys nerve tissues)
  • Nephrotoxin (destroys cells of the kidneys)
  • a skin toxin (causes hives or a rash)

Signs/Symptoms Your Patient May Have Ingested Blue-Green Algae

Animal treatment time is limited due to the cyanobacteria illness’s fast onset of symptoms. From 15 minutes to several days after exposure, symptoms can start. The toxicity of the toxin will determine the clinical symptoms of poisoning.

Hepatotoxin is microcystin. Microcystins may cause failure or liver damage. Liver damage symptoms include:

Can swimming in a lake make my dog sick?

Dogs that swam in and drank hazardous algae-infested water have become very ill and even perished. Don’t let your pet drink or swim in the water if there is a lake, pond, or river that has thick, vividly colored foam or scum!

Are all green algae poisonous?

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.

Recreational Exposures

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.

Household Exposures

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.

What distinguishes green algae from blue-green algae?

The primary distinction between green algae and blue green algae is that the former are eukaryotic species that belong to the Kingdom Monera, while the latter are prokaryotic organisms.

Photoautotrophs exhibit the process of photosynthesis. It is the procedure that uses solar energy to produce carbohydrates (foods). Water, CO2, and photosynthetic pigments must all be present for the process to take place. Photoautotrophs can perform photosynthesis because they have photosynthetic pigments. As plants, cyanobacteria (blue green algae), and algae, there are three main categories of photoautotrophs (including green algae). Blue green algae and green algae are therefore both photosynthetic creatures. Green algae are eukaryotic creatures, while blue-green algae are prokaryotic. As a result, depending on their cellular structure and other traits, blue green algae and green algae differ from one another.