If you are a pet owner, you better start monitoring your pet’s movement before it gets in contact with the toxic blue-green algae. In a recent announcement, scientists have warned that the blue-green algae could be the cause of increased deaths among dogs. 

One documented incident occurred in Wilmington, California, when 3 dog owners reported sudden deaths of their pets after frog licking in a pond. In a different incident, a dog owner in Georgia complained about the death of his dog after swimming in Lake Allatoona. The cause of the deaths could not be identified immediately, considering that all four incidents occurred in different regions. 

However, one thing stood out; the four deaths occurred in waters containing the blue-green algae. The likely cause of these deaths was later identified to be liver failure, caused by ingesting water contaminated by cyanobacteria or blue-green algae.


So What is Blue-Green Algae?

There are different types of algae. Most are non-toxic, but the blue-green algae are in the class of harmful algal blooms (HAB). This alga produces a poison that affects the liver and brain. It’s not only toxic to animals, but it can also cause death to humans. 

The Blue-green algae bloom is caused by careless dumping of sewage and other pollutants into water bodies. Notably, the nitrogen and phosphorus from these wastes tend to accelerate the growth of the HAB(s).


Where does it grow?

The blue green algae grow in both fresh and saltwater. You will often spot it in fish ponds, lakes, or large undisturbed water bodies. Moreover, algae are photosynthetic, hence they depend on the sun for its survival.


Is my dog infected? 

An infected dog will start to show signs fifteen minutes to several days after ingesting or coming into contact with algae. Common symptoms include:

  • Breathing difficulties
  • Pale mucous membrane
  • Muscle tremors, paralysis, muscle rigidity.
  • Tear production 
  • Excessive salivation
  • Blood in stool
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea and Vomiting
  • Disorientation, confusion, Seizures and Unconsciousness

Though these symptoms tend to be consistent among dogs, other pets may also show similar signs.


How to keep yourself and your dog safe

Dogs are attracted to the smell of algae scum, and thus, it is hard to prevent them from getting in contact with the algae scum. However, the following measures may help keep you and your dog safe:

  • Do not let your dog drink or swim in waters containing the algae. 
  • Don’t eat fish or any food that comes from these sources. 
  • Visit a health care service if either you, your family members or dogs have been in contact with water infected with cyanobacteria. 
  • Wear gloves when handling an infected pet
  • Avoid all areas containing scum when boating
  • Alert authorities if you notice water bodies containing the blue-green algae 

The blue green algae  is widespread across all the 50 states in the US. As a pet owner, you are required to take all necessary measures to prevent more deaths. In case you suspect that your dog has been exposed to  algae, rinse it off and call a vet immediately.