Dogs are at risk from blue-green algae. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, you can recognize it by “foams, scums, mats or streaks” in the water. Algae produce one of nature’s most potent poisons.
How much blue-green algae is toxic?
The toxin is so small that a few drops can be enough to kill a dog. The water can poison dogs who swim in it, lick off the water, or take a quick lap. Algae can be found in the water around your house.
The Symptoms Are Seen Quickly
The dog is affected by blue-green alga almost instantly. Symptoms usually appear within 30-60 minutes. Many people say their dogs became sick while driving home. Symptoms include vomiting and diarrhea.
Blue-green Algae Poisoning in Dogs includes:
Black, tarry stoolsDiarrheaDifficulty breathingDisorientationDroolingElevated heart rateHives or rashJaundiceMuscle tremorsPale mucous membranesSeizuresShockStumblingVomitingWeakness
You should consult a veterinarian if you suspect poisoning. Fatal liver failure occurs quickly. A combination of IV fluids, plasma, and other aggressive veterinary therapies is used to replenish electrolytes and regulate blood glucose. This helps to support organ function and prevent shock. Sometimes, muscle relaxants and anti-seizure medications are also necessary. Unfortunately, the outlook for blue-green algal toxicity is not good.
The blue-green alga contains two types of toxic substances: microcystins, and neurotoxins. Both are toxic and neither has a cure. The microcystins target the liver. The neurotoxins paralyzes the respiratory muscles of the dog, causing him to be unable to breathe. Treatment with oxygen and anti-seizure medication may prevent death.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Dogs?
Keep him away from any water you don’t know or that seems strange. Check with the Environmental Protection Agency for any blue-green algal warnings before you go to a park. The EPA provides state-specific resources on harmful algal blooms. You should be especially cautious if temperatures are high and water does not move or flow. Both conditions can help poisonous blooms to grow.
If you are concerned that the water in which your dog has been swimming may be toxic, rinse him or hose off with clean water immediately and then towel him dry. When you are doing this, wear gloves because the algae can be poisonous for humans as well. After you’re done, wash your hands. After the bath, wash your hands. Any symptom, as stated above, should prompt a trip to the vet immediately.
What is blue-green algae?
Not all cyanobacteria is toxic. You can’t tell by looking at the flowers if you don’t know what they are.
Credit: troutfisherman Getty Images
Blue-green algal blooms can be seen in a variety of colors, including green, brown, red or blue. It can look like paint streaks to some people. The water body may appear like a thick, green soup. It could also be cloudy and swampy. If the blooms have reached the end of their life cycle, they may look white. However, the toxins will remain in the water three weeks after. Algae can also be found in clear water.
The blue-green algae is not visible until it clumps together. Bacteria thrives in warm, nutrient rich water. The algae can grow rapidly when conditions are ideal. Most commonly, it occurs in lakes and ponds that do not flow. This is especially true during hot weather conditions and low rainfall. It can also happen at other times during the year as our planet continues its warming trend.
Standing water is more likely to contain cyanobacteria than fast-moving streams or rivers. The bacteria can grow in backyard fountains as well as garden pots and birdbaths. It’s therefore important to think about where your pets may be drinking on your property. If you have containers on your property used to store water for thirsty pets, it’s a good idea to empty and clean them regularly with a stiff bristle brush. Note: Using chlorine or ultraviolet light to disinfect or boil infected water will not remove cyanobacteria toxic substances.
Unfortunately, the blue-green algal blooms that occur in water have caused deer, elks, livestock, horses, cats and other animals to die within a short time after drinking it.
A few drops of blue-green algae can kill a dog Whole Dog Journal.