Blue-green algae can be deadly to dogs - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Blue-green algae can be deadly to dogs

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Facebook: Morgan Fleming Facebook: Morgan Fleming

(WSIL) -- Illinois officials are warning you to be on the lookout for algae in local rivers and lakes. Dangerous algae blooms have been found in the state (Woods Creek Lake in Lake in the Hills), and the blue-green algae is being blamed for the deaths of several dogs across the country.

Illinois Environmental Protection Agency and the Illinois Department of Public Health issued a warning reminding residents to be cautious if they are planning activities on Illinois lakes and rivers. State officials say water conditions are ideal for blue-green algae growth. Blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) are microscopic organisms that naturally occur in lakes and streams.

People are advised to keep children and pets out of the water. Do not allow pets to drink from the water and do not allow them to lick their fur after swimming in water containing a blue-green algae bloom. Dogs who come into contact with the toxic blooms can start showing symptoms of distress or naseau in thirty minutes. If you or your pet has contact with water you suspect may have a blue-green algae bloom, rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.

People who plan to recreate in or on Illinois lakes or rivers this summer are advised to avoid contact with water that:

  • looks like spilled, green or blue-green paint;
  • has surface scums, mats, or films
  • is discolored or has green-colored streaks
  • has greenish globs suspended in the water below the surface.

The problem is not a new one, but many people are unaware that the algae can be deadly for dogs. Several dogs have gotten very ill and died from toxic algae across Florida, which has been riddled with the blooms this summer. 

At the beginning of this month, the City of Austin, Texas closed a dog park on Lady Bird Lake after three dogs died after swimming in the lake.

Over the weekend, a dog owner who lives near Atlanta posted a series of photos and explained how suddenly her dog's health failed.

And late last week, a North Carolina couple lost their three dogs within hours of taking them out for a swim. Shortly after returning home, one of the dogs started acting strangely, so they took it to the emergency vet. Soon after, the other two dogs started seizing. All three died by midnight.

They want to raise awareness about the toxic algae, "People need to know about this. Like I said, if we had any clue this was ever a thing they would have never come. I had no idea. And once we got to the emergency vet last night, they also weren't sure."

Keep an eye out for the following symptoms within minutes to hours of exposure:

  • Excessive drooling, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Jaundice, hepatomegaly
  • Blood in urine or dark urine
  • Stumbling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Photosensitization in recovering animals
  • Abdominal tenderness
  • Progression of muscle twitches
  • Respiratory paralysis

The Illinois Department of Public Health recommends the following steps if you encounter algae.

  • Do not swim or wade through algal scums
  • Do not boat, water ski, jet ski, or fish where algal scum is present
  • Always shower off with soap and water after swimming in a lake, river, or pond
  • Do not let dogs drink, eat, or lick algal scum off their fur
  • Wash your dog off with clean water immediately if your dog swims or wades in water during an algal bloom.

You can click here to read more about algae blooms.

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