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Toxic Blue Green Algae in lakes could kill a dog within hours - Learn how to save your dog from Cyanobacteria poisoning

Updated on April 26, 2012

What is Toxic Blue Green Algae?

Blue green algae is actually not algae at all but a really dangerous, toxic type of bacteria called Cyanobacteria. It grows in predominantly fresh water such as lakes and ponds, but can also be found in all other types of water and can be extremely dangerous to dogs if swallowed.

Is Blue Green Algae poisonous to dogs?

The short answer is yes - blue green algae can be extremely dangerous for your dog to consume. The toxic blue green algae exists in water all year round but it is only when there’s been a long period of warm sunny days that they thrive to a dangerous degree and bloom (reproducing exponentially). The Blue Green Algea thrives in shallow, nutrient rich bodies of water such as ponds and lakes. In prolonged warm conditions, which usually happens in late summer or early autumn, the algae can suddenly bloom and thereby spread a powerful toxin in the water which is one of the most powerful natural poisons known.

What if your dog drinks water with Blue Green Algae in it?

If you think your dog has been swimming in and drinking water with blue green algae in it, it is important to act fast. Your dog could get really ill within as little as twenty minutes and potentially die within four to five hours depending on the amount of bacteria consumed, the size of your dog and whether or not he has eaten recently. The symptoms to look out for is acute salivation and pale gums, but beware of any unusual symptoms and call your vet immediately if you so much as suspect that your dog might have consumed blue green algae. Minutes could quite literally save your dog's life.

One of many ways Blue Green Algae can look in the water
One of many ways Blue Green Algae can look in the water | Source
Is that mud or Blue Green Algae?
Is that mud or Blue Green Algae? | Source
You can't always see Blue Green Algae
You can't always see Blue Green Algae | Source

How to keep your dog safe from Blue Green Algae

The very safest option is of course to stay well clear of all water but all dog owners know how much dogs love to go swimming. It can be useful to know that some of the toxic blue green algae can look like foam, scum or mats on the surface of the water when its blooming – but beware that some of them are not visible or come in different colours like blue, green or brown. The water may or may not smell different than usual so it is very difficult to tell if it has been contaminated with blue green algae. To make things even more complicated not all algae is poisonous - its the bacterial blue green variety (Cyanobacteria) you need to look out for.

The algae can grow in any type of water but some are safer to for your dog to swim in than others. So, the trick seem to be to avoid stagnant ponds, puddles and lakes when the weather has been hot for a while and instead take your dog to the sea or a river where the water is constantly moving and overall cooler. And more than anything keep your eyes open for any unusual symptoms or behaviours from your dog after it has been swimming.

Where does your dog like to go swimming?

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    • Linda Bliss profile image

      Linda Liebrand 6 years ago from San Francisco

      Thanks for your comments. Its obviously important not to panic over this, its not like every pond or lake is dangerous but definitely keep your eyes open to changes in the water where you usually walk your dog - Steph, the ducks leaving your pond sounds like a solid warning sign to me!

    • Steph Harris profile image

      Steph Harris 6 years ago from Cambridgeshire, United Kingdom

      Thank you for writing this hub, where I walk my dog we have a pond in some woods, now covered in blue green algae due to the recent warm weather. Since the ducks left the pond I haven't been too keen on letting him go in the pond, now he definitely won't be, and I will pass the news on to other dog walking friends I meet. Who knows how many dog lives you have saved with this hub.

    • Kimme Owens profile image

      Kimme Owens 6 years ago from California

      I had no idea this stuff even existed. We take our dog camping around lakes and ponds all the time, and I've never thought twice about letting her go swimming. I will definitely take more care from now on. Thank you!