Dog owners are being warned of the dangers surrounding blue-green algae, as a dog in Glasgow was rushed to the vet over the weekend after the dog came in contact with the dangerous substance. Google trends data shows a 5,000% increase in searches for ‘how long does it take for blue green algae to make your dog sick’ so this is actively being searched for and concerned pet owners want to keep their dogs as safe as possible this summer.
Dog experts Kennel Store have advised dog owners on how to keep dogs out of harms way and highlight the possible dangers of blue-green algae.
“Dogs love cooling down in bodies of water like rivers and lakes, particularly on hotter days. But it can be hazardous for our dogs to go swimming in waters when bacteria such as blue-green algae is around.
What is blue-green algae?
Blue-green algae is a term that describes a group of bacteria, called cyanobacteria. Whilst algae is in the name, it isn’t actually algae but a collective term for the bacteria as it looks like algae when it is clumped together in waters.
It can be hard to see blue-green algae unless it has collected together, therefore it can pose a risk to dogs. When you do see large patches of blue-green algae, it’s common to see green flakes, brown dots and greenish bundles. It can often resemble foam and can be found at the edge of lakes or ponds. It’s typically found where water doesn’t flow and isn’t fresh, where rainfall is much less frequent, which allows the bacteria to build up.
There could be dead fish in ponds and lakes that have a high concentration of toxic bacteria. Do not let your dog drink from water containing deceased animals.
What are the risks and why is it dangerous?
Patches of blue-green algae contain extremely harmful toxins which can stop a dogs liver from functioning correctly. Although not every type of blue-green algae is dangerous, it’s important to be cautious when walking near bodies of water to prevent your dog from becoming unwell.
Exposure to blue-green algae is often fatal, and for dogs that do survive, they can be left with long-lasting health problems. Some types of blue-green algae can have fatal effects and can kill a dog in as little as 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated waters.
Signs and symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning
If your dog has been swimming or paddling in water and they start to show any of the following signs, contact your vet immediately and tell them you are concerned about blue-green algae poisoning:
- Difficulty breathing
- Confused or disoriented
If caught early enough, your vet will attempt to make your dog vomit to try flush the toxins out of the body. There is no antidote, but if medical intervention occurs early this gives your dog the best chance at survival.
Sadly, blue-green algae poisoning often eventually causes fatal liver failure, so it is important owners are vigilant.
How you can protect your dog
- Keep your dog away from bodies of water that you suspect to contain blue-green algae.
- Do not allow your dog to swim or paddle in waters that contain blue-green algae
- Don’t let your dog drink water that could contain blue-green algae. Wind often blows blue-green algae to the edges of ponds and lakes and higher concentrations of toxins can reside here, where your dog is more likely to drink.
- Note warning signs and hazard notices during dog walks and follow the advice provided.
If you are worried about your dog and they begin exhibiting signs of blue-green algae poisoning, contact your vet immediately. The effects of blue-green algae can come on extremely quickly, and it is important your vet intervenes and can advise in a timely manner for the best outcome.”
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