KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Veterinarian experts are warning dog owners of toxic blue-green algae, after three dogs in the Carolinas died within hours of exposure to it.
“The blue-green algae is present in different lakes, different ponds, creeks, rivers, things like that,” said Dr. Julie Schildt with the University of Tennessee’s School of Veterinary Medicine (UTCVM). “Unfortunately, there are some that we’ve been hearing about lately that can cause toxicity to our patients and we can’t tell by looking at it with the naked eye if it’s toxic or non-toxic.”
Dr. Schildt says the best thing pet parents can do to prevent their dogs from getting sick as a result of toxic algae is to keep them out of the water completely.
“It’s hot out and we want our animals to be able to get in the water to cool off, but that’s really the only way to truly be sure that they’re not going to get sick from this,” Dr. Schildt said.
That being said – dogs are dogs and they can sometimes jump in anyway – which is why it’s important to know the signs to look out for.
“Algae can look like anything it can look very obviously like algae, like scum, and have a blue or green color – it can be more of a red-ish or brown but sometimes it may not even look that dangerous,” explained Dr. Schildt.
Doctors with UTCVM say the toxic algae tends to be in more stagnant water, on the edge of its surface, when it’s more hot out and when there is less rainfall.
“And there’s no quick test to do it so there’s no way to grab a sample, quickly test it and figure that out. The animal is going to be sick way before you can figure out if the algae is toxic or not,” added Dr. Schildt.
Symptoms can include in your dog can include:
- staggering around
- falling over
- abdominal pain
- seizures – which doctors say can lead to sudden death
“Again, most of the time these blooms are not toxic, this is just a time of year right now when they are, so just be very very aware of it,” said Dr. Schildt.
If you think your dog has been exposed to toxic algae, getting them out of the water immediately, hosing them down, and seeking medical attention is highly advised.
Doctors with UTCVM say they’ve seen one case of toxic algae in the past seven years.
If you are trying to keep your dog safe by keeping them out of the water completely, allowing them to play with a water sprinkler in the yard or even a kiddy pool filled up with water are some ways they can still cool off this summer.