Many of our four-legged friends love a quick dip in the water on a warm day. However, pet owners should be aware of a potential danger – blue-green algae. Blue-green algae is comprised of a photosynthetic bacteria, that grows in the water, known as cyanobacteria
When cyanobacteria multiply to large numbers the result is a visible bloom. Blooms occur most often in the late summer or early fall, but can occur whenever conditions are favourable. Slow moving, warm water that is rich in nutrients, from sources such as fertilizer or septic waste, promotes the formation of a bloom. Blooms appear on the surface of the water as thick floating scum or foam in bright paint-like colours of blue, green, brown or red.
Blue-green algae is dangerous to our pets because of the powerful toxins they can produce. These toxins when ingested can cause gastroenteritis (diarrhea and vomiting), liver and kidney toxicity, and neurotoxicity. It is possible for death to result quickly from the effects on the nervous system.
The best defence against blue-green algae is to avoid the water when a suspected bloom is present. If your pet has been in the water it is advisable to rinse them off immediately and prevent them from licking their fur. Seek veterinary care immediately if you suspect your pet has ingested any toxins. For more information about blue-green algae please see the following brochure.