Blue-Green Algae Advisories Pose Risks for Dogs

blue green algaeWhile conducting routine water quality monitoring in the area, the MA Department of Public Health confirmed high concentrations of blue-green algae in the Charles River and in waters in the towns of Newton, Waltham and Weston.

As a result, the state asked local communities to issue advisories related to the blue-green alegae (cyanobacteria). This is very important for dog owners to keep in mind, as consumption of the contaminated water can prove fatal for pets. Blue-green algae is idenitified as being moderately to severely toxic to pets.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are aquatic bacteria that can produce toxins which are harmful to humans, dogs and other mammals. If you see water that looks bright green or contains bright green strands avoid contact with the water as much as possible!

A combination of factors, such as excess nutrients, warm temperatures, and sunlight, encourage blue-green algae growth.

Some common signs of poisoning by blue-green algae include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blood in stool or black, tarry stool
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation
  • Coma
  • Shock
  • Excessive secretions (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, etc.)
  • Neurologic signs (including muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, paralysis, etc.)
  • Blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes
  • Difficulty breathing

Dogs that enjoy swimming and playing in lakes and ponds may be exposed to blue-green algae. Hunting dogs are especially predisposed due to increased exposure outdoors.

Unfortunately, there is no antidote for the toxins produced by blue-green algae. Immediate veterinary care is imperative. If you suspect your dog was exposed to blue-green algae, contact Pet Poison Helpline immediately for guidance.