How to spot the toxic algae that’s killing dogs in the Southeast

Three dogs died from toxic algae after swimming. Now their devastated owner is warning fellow dog lovers all over the country

Three dogs died from toxic algae after swimming. Now their devastated owner is warning fellow dog lovers all over the country

In an unfortunate turn of events, three dogs died on August 8 from toxic algae poisoning after swimming in infested pond waters in Wilmington, North Carolina.

"Prompt treatment is important in all cases of poisoning, but since blue-green algae attacks so fast, speedy intervention is critical". In addition, toxins produced by cyanobacteria can be present in waters even when an algal bloom is not visible.

She says she took them home to give them baths and then they started having seizures.

It's not possible to determine the presence of toxins in the water without testing, so all blooms should be considered potentially toxic, Pet Poison Helpline said.

Now the algae doesn't pose much of a threat to humans, only skin irritation, but to our furry friends it could be deadly.

According to Pet Poison Helpline, blue-green algae, technically known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic bacteria found in freshwater streams and ponds.

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The news of the North Carolina death dogs also spurred action in California, where the State Water Resources Control Board sent out a HABs team to collect samples at the San Pablo Reservoir in the East Bay on Monday morning.

Symptoms, which usually arise anywhere from 15 minutes to several days after exposure, include diarrhea or vomiting, weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing and convulsions or seizures, the EPA reports. "It just kind of behooves anybody that sees algae in a lake, in a pond, that they'd probably want to be cautious and just not expose themselves to it or to their pets".

How do I know if my dog has been exposed?

One study identified 368 cases of toxic algae poisoning associated with dogs throughout the United States over a nine-decade period, but the researchers believe this represents only "a small fraction of cases that occur throughout the U.S. each year". If you see any scum or algae on the rocks, avoid letting your pet swim. If your dog has already gotten into a harmful bloom, rinse your pet off immediately in fresh, clean water.

Can I be harmed by the algae? "Dogs are also more likely to drink the contaminated water". If consumed, it can cause abdominal pain, headaches, vomiting, nausea, blistering around the mouth, flu-like symptoms and even liver toxicity and neurological damage. "Ultimately, the entire food web is impacted because these toxins are produced", said Schmale. HABs can produce toxins that have caused a variety of illnesses in people and animals.

Veterinarians say the process can happen within 15 to 30 minutes.

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