Toxic Algae – Danger to Dogs

Toxic Algae - Danger to Dogs
Toxic Algae - Danger to Dogs

Experts have advised that you ought to take extra precautions when you are walking your dog through areas which may have water infected with toxic algae at the moment. This advise comes after several areas have been confirmed to have been affected. There have been reports of toxic algae being present for instance in Killarney as well as some areas of Northern Ireland too. In the UK moreover, toxic algae has been detected in areas such as Southampton, Fleet, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire this summer. In Scotland meanwhile, among the areas which have been confirmed to have had toxic algae in the waters are Elgin and Edinburgh.

Serious health risk

This situation is therefore very serious, as it was only this summer when three dogs in North Carolina in the US tragically died shortly after swimming in toxic algae infected water. This event tells you how severe the effects can be, and in fact the symptoms can manifest within hours or even minutes. These symptoms include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Disorientation
  • Drooling
  • Respiratory problems
  • Seizures
  • Blood in faeces

If untreated, the harshness of the condition rapidly escalates, leading with haste to kidney damage and possible death.

Blue green algae

The blue green toxic algae itself will look like greenish or green-brown scum on the surface of the water. Therefore, it becomes very dangerous for dogs to swim anywhere near water that has been at all infected, as even the smallest amount that has got onto a dog’s fur may become later ingested when the dog licks themselves, if it has not already been drunk when the dog is in the water source.

BVA advice

British Veterinary Association Junior Vice President Daniella Dos Santos has also highlighted the risk of infection by making it clear that there is currently no antidote available for the sickness which is caused. She therefore emphasises that: ‘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 them your local vet without delay.’
The official advice that comes from the BVA has informed all dog owners to avoid letting their dogs swim anywhere where the blue green algae is or near the water source. Though not all blue green algae will be toxic, there is no way of telling through sight alone which is and which is not, therefore it is only safe not to take the risk.

Extra precautions

It is of course the case that dogs do love to splash about in some water though when out on a walk, so it is suggested that you should look out for any warning signs put up by the Environment Agency or local councils near water bodies that you might be walking past. If indeed you do find out through your research that there has been reported blue green toxic algae blossom in your area, then it is crucial that you keep your pet by your side and on a lead when you are on a walk near water, and not to let your dog drink from any open water.
While there is the danger out there that toxic algae may be spreading around Ireland and the UK, you should make sure that you thoroughly wash, clean and dry your dog’s fur after you take your dog swimming. If you do have any concerns about your dog having been potentially infected, you should be sure to get your dog seen by a professional vet as soon as possible.

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