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The Dangers Of Blue Green Algae for Dogs

March 01, 2017

Blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) can be dangerously toxic and is found in ponds, lakes and streams across the U.S.

Before you let your pup jump into a pond, lake or river this summer, pause for a minute. Does any part of the water have what looks like a layer of green-, blue-, or red-tinged paint floating on top? If yes, the water may contain a toxic and potentially deadly algae bloom.

Blue-green algae can be found in ponds, lakes and rivers across the United States and puts you and your adventure dog at risk. Read on to learn more about this risk, where it can be found and how to avoid it.

What is blue-green algae and where is it found?

Cyanobacteria, nicknamed blue-green algae due to its colorful appearance, is one of the most toxic and potentially life-threatening water hazards. Cyanobacteria is microbacteria that can accumulate in lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water bodies. Under the right settings - stagnant water, sunlight and high water temperatures - cyanobacteria can accumulate rapidly into algal “blooms”

Although some cyanobacteria is harmless, certain algal blooms produce dangerous toxins that can cause liver damage or harm the nervous system. Medical researchers recently began exploring the link between algal bloom neurotoxins and an increased risk of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).

Who is at risk?
Dogs, humans and other animals that play in water bodies are at greatest risk of exposure to harmful algal blooms. Animals and humans that drink from natural water bodies are also at heightened risk of exposure.
Prevention is key.

Recognize cyanobacteria. Avoid water that is foamy, scummy, or has a thick blue-green-red film floating on top.

Do your research. Many states publish algal bloom adversaries online for monitored lakes and rivers, so never hesitate to do a quick google search before leaving home (note: not all bodies of water are monitored so do not reply on this step alone)

Provide clean drinking water. Never allow your pup to drink out of stagnant water, especially if it has blue-green scum floating around the edges. Minimize this risk by always having clean drinking water on hand.

If you think your pup was exposed to cyanobacteria, call Animal Poison Control immediately at 

(888) 426-4435.

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