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Blue Green Algae and Dogs – The Dangers

During the hot weather this summer your four-legged friend would most likely have been seeking to cool off in the nearest pond, river or lake. However, vets are warning of increased spell of blue green algae. This algae and dogs do not mix, as it can cause unpleasant health issues for our pups. With a scorching Bank Holiday weekend predicted, keep reading to find out how to keep your beloved pooch safe around water!

What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae blooms, which are green or green-brown in colour, appear as scum floating on water. Algae are a bacterium that occur naturally and forms more easily in still or slow-flowing water such a pond or lake during hot weather.

Blue-green algae has been widely detected across the UK this summer, ranging from the South and South West of England, the East and West Midlands and in Scotland.

British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos said:

“We know that some dogs enjoy nothing better than a paddle in a cool lake while on a walk during summer months, but my advice to pet owners would be to keep your dog on a lead during walks near water confirmed to have toxic algal blooms. While not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

“There is currently no known antidote for the toxins, so prompt veterinary treatment is essential to tackle their effects and ensure a good chance of recovery. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue green algae, rush it to your local vet without delay.”

Signs your dog may have been exposed to blue-green algae toxins:

The effects of blue-green algae can manifest rapidly, and it is essential to seek veterinary assistance if you suspect your dog may have been exposed to the toxins. There is no cure at present, however, the earlier you can get your dog to the vet, the more chance there is of them making a recovery. Blue-green algae has a similar toxicity to humans, so be sure to seek medical advice for yourself if you experience any of the symptoms below.

The signs of blue-green algae exposure:

Tips to keep your dog safe when enjoying the water in summer:

Before letting your dog hop, skip and jump into the nearest lake or river to cool down, it is best to keep your dog on a lead until you have checked the water for blue-green algae. As it is not clear whether the blue-green algae is toxic by looking at it, it is safer to keep your dog on a lead. Don’t let your dog swim or drink from the pond or lake, unless you are sure that there is no algal bloom present. If your four-legged friend comes into contact with the water, it is important to wash them with clean water afterwards. If you have any doubt that your dog may have had exposure to, or ingested toxic algae, rush them to your vet at once. Click here to find your nearest Vetsure clinic 

Remember to keep your dog cool and hydrated during the hot weather by seeking shade, carrying cool, fresh water for them and avoiding walking on tarmac during the daytime to prevent burns to their paws, along with not leaving them in the car. Click here to read our article on keeping your dog safe in the heat for further tips!