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Blue-Green Algae Blooms and the Dangers to Your Pet

Guest post by Lorie A. Huston, DVM, Pet Health Care Gazette

Recently, one dog died and two others are suspected of dying from exposure to toxic blue-green algae, Blue-green-algae according to the  Kansas State University Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory.

These dogs were exposed to a blue-green algae bloom in a specific location, Milford Lake in Kansas. However, Kansas is not the only location to have difficulties with this dangerous poison problem. Blue-green algae blooms have been reported elsewhere throughout the country as well. In May, Rhode Island authorities issued a warning about the toxic effects of blue-green algae blooms. Other states have issued similar warnings and have had similar issues as well.

Blue-Green Algae Toxicity

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, occur in almost all bodies of water. They require sunlight to reproduce and grow. In warm weather, when the water becomes loaded with nutrients, these algae sometimes grow uncontrolled, producing a bloom. Exposure to this bloom can be dangerous for pets, livestock and people because of toxins released into the water from this bloom.

Symptoms of exposure to a toxic blue-green algae bloom include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, incoordination, foaming at the mouth, diarrhea, convulsions, excessive drooling, tremors and seizures. Death can occur rapidly with exposure.

The Center for Disease Control also provides more information about toxic blue-green algal blooms. See their site for more information about how blue-green algae blooms can affect public health.

How to Protect Your Pet from Toxic Algae Blooms

Do not let your pet (or livestock) graze near, drink or swim in water where you see blue-green algal blooms, foam or scum on the surface.

If your pet does get in water with a bloom, immediately wash him with clean water. Do not let your pet lick algae off of his fur.

Contact your veterinarian immediately if your pet shows signs of blue-green algae poisoning.

(Photo credit: eutrophicationandhypoxia/Flickr.com





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  1. Thanks for sharing this information. I had no idea that this was dangerous. Milford Lake, Kansas is just two hours away from me so if it is there, it could be in my area too.

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