Dogs & Blue Green Algae

If there’s one “hot topic” that everyone has been talking about in the veterinary world this summer, it’s blue green algae blooms. It may not be a positive topic, but it’s one that most, if not all dog owners have been made aware of in the last few months because of the fact that these blooms can be fatal for dogs with no known cure or treatment. 

What Is It?

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue green algae, are a type of bacteria that are normally present in lakes and ponds and thrive in warm, nutrient-rich water. When conditions work in their favor, the bacteria can grow and spread quickly to form large blooms. While not all blooms are toxic, it is not possible to determine toxicity without testing so all should be considered potentially toxic. 

What To Look For

If you plan on taking your dog swimming, be extra cautious before dipping into the water, especially if it’s stagnant. Blue green algae blooms will give the water a blue-green or “pea soup” appearance and can also look like a blue-green paint over the water’s surface. 

Signs & Symptoms Of Poisoning

If you have taken your dog swimming and begin to notice any of the following signs and symptoms, you should seek immediate veterinary care as it is possible that the water contained toxic blue green algae.

  • Seizures
  • Panting
  • Excessive drooling
  • Respiratory failure
  • Diarrhea
  • Disorientation
  • Vomiting
  • Liver Failure
  • Ultimately death

What You Can Do

When taking your dog swimming or for a walk around a body of water, try your best to find a moving water source. If you only have access to stagnant water such as a lake or pond, do not allow your dog near it should it have a blue-green or scummy appearance. Blue green algae cells can also stick to your dog’s fur, so after the swim be sure to give your dog a thorough bath.

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