Cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, can be deadly for animals, and it’s likely to pop up in lakes and ponds this time of year.
Three dogs in North Carolina recently died after playing in a pond where blue-green algae was growing, and another dog died after swimming in a contaminated lake in Georgia.
Blue-green algae thrives when temperatures are high, and it can grow in water all around the U.S.
It’s found in lakes, streams, and ponds and can produce toxins. The bacteria form blooms and can grow fast. The algae is a blue-green color that looks like paint on top of the water, but it can be difficult to spot.
The algae can grow any time of year but is more abundant in the summer. It can poison people, wildlife, and pets, and it becomes more toxic when ingested by animals.
Whitesburg Animal Hospital Veterinarian, Mark Russell, said, “They’re out hot, like we are. They run in, get a big mouth full, and if it has those toxins in the water, the reaction is very quick.”
Symptoms include diarrhea or vomiting, weakness, difficulty breathing, and seizures. Animals can die within minutes to days of being exposed to the bacteria.
“You may see it and suspect it when you see green foam, green slime on them. If you see that, you should wash them off as quickly as possible and rush them to their veterinarian, because it’s very quick. They’ll need aggressive therapy,” said Russell.
Not all blue-green algae is toxic, but the only way to know is by testing it. To be safe, keep pets away from water when algae is present.