Why You Need to be Informed About Blue Green Algae

As the temperatures rise in North Carolina, so do the water temperatures in local waters. Pair this with a lack of rain, and it can make for a perfect storm. The formation of Blue Green Algae, that is. Although, Blue Green Algae presents itself as an algae, it is actually a group of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. 

When the Blue Green Algae form, it looks like a scum laying on the surface of the water. Often, you will find the algae around the edges of certain ponds and lakes. It may even appear to be foamy. Even in the absence of a scum build-up or foam, Blue Green Algae may still be present. 


Even though not all Blue Green Algae is toxic, you may not be able to tell just by appearance. For this, it’s best to keep your dog (cat) away from these waters. Blue Green Algae produces harmful toxins that can affect your dog’s liver function. Sadly, the ingestion of water by your dog that contains Blue Algae is often fatal. If your dog does survive, they are likely to have long-term health issues. 

Certain types of toxic Blue Green Algae can kill a dog within fifteen minutes. The Blue Green Algae can also linger on your dog’s fur. Upon licking themselves, can ingest the toxins. As a precaution, it is best not to allow your dog to go near bodies of water where Blue Green Algae may be present. 

For more information, check out this article from the ASPCA.

Signs of possible Blue Green Algae toxicity

If your dog has been swimming or drinking from a body of water and shows any of the following symptoms, contact your vet immediately:

  • Breathing problems
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness 
  • Drooling 
  • Diarrhea 


Currently, there is NO antidote to fight against the toxins from Blue Green Algae. If you recognize the symptoms early, your vet may be able to attempt to flush out the toxins before they can have harmful effects on the dog’s liver. As mentioned above, the majority of cases, will lead to liver failure.

Blue Green Algae found in local Charlotte waters

At the end of July 2020, Blue Green Algae was detected in water at a popular park in Charlotte. Warning signs were posted at Freedom Park to alert dog owners of the risk. To read the full article from WBTV, click here.

According to the article, the Storm Water Services also detected the toxic Blue Green Algae in two other local ponds. Officials also advise, if you notice a large number of dead fish or fowl, in or near a particular body of water, that could denote the presence of Blue Green Algae. Avoid allowing your dog to swim in these waters.

Keep note, the formation of Blue Green Algae can occur in bodies of water around the world. This is not just specific to the Charlotte area. 

Prevention is key

  • Pay attention to posted signage warning you of the infected waters
  • Avoid letting your dog drink from ponds that appear stagnant, or scummy
  • Contact your local water supply authority, or health department with questions regarding testing and outbreaks


Thankfully, we have an alternative for you if you live in the Charlotte, or surrounding areas. If you have a pup who loves to swim, yet you have concerns about public water safety, be sure to contact us at Aqua Pups

Aqua Pups is an indoor, in-ground pool just for dogs. It is part of our Independence Veterinary Clinic, and open all year long. We offer swim classes and memberships. We look forward to meeting you and your pup (s) in a safe, and fun swimming environment. 

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