Dear Porky and Buddy,
I keep hearing dire reports about blue-green algae and how dangerous it is to dogs.
But, how are you supposed to know if there are such algae in water?
My dog, Bud loves to jump into any body of water he sees.
It could be Lake Ontario. It could be just a puddle accumulated after a rain storm.
I pay attention to the warnings about these algae in some of the smaller lakes around here.
But what about those puddles, or the small ponds that we walk around?
Blue-green algae is a term used to describe a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria.
They are not actually algae, but they can sort of look like algae when they clump together in bodies of water.
When the “algae” bloom, it can appear like a blue-green scum on the surface of the water.
It sometimes looks a bit like pea soup. Sometimes it looks greenish-brown.
Blooms of the bacteria often build up around the edges of ponds and lakes, right where Bud likes to drink and swim.
It is most common in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall, but it can also occur at other times of the year.
The basic rule of thumb is this—if you see something in water that looks like algae, whether blue-green, green, or brown, don’t let Bud near it.
You can’t tell by looking at it what it is, so don’t take the risk.
Even if Bud doesn’t drink from the water, dogs who have been swimming in contaminated water can get the algae caught in their fur, and can then ingest it while cleaning themselves later on.
Exposure to toxic levels of blue-green algae is often fatal, and can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water.
If your dog shows any of the following signs after drinking from, or swimming or even just walking in water, contact your vet immediately to tell them you are concerned about blue-green algae:
vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, weakness/collapse/unconsciousness, disorientation, excessive drooling, or breathing difficulties.
There is no antidote for the toxins produced by the bacteria, but if caught early enough, your vet will likely try to make your dog vomit and attempt to flush the toxins from the body before they take hold.
Obviously, prevention is the better choice with this dangerous poison.
On a happier note, come celebrate the dogs of summer at Paws on the Patio, on July 8 from 2 to 6 p.m. at Gibby O’Connor’s Irish Pub, 8 W. Second St., Oswego.
There will be music, food, raffles and treats for your dog!
All proceeds will benefit the Oswego County Humane Society to help animals in need in our community.
The Oswego County Humane Society provides spay/neuter services and assistance, fostering and adoption of animals in urgent need, humane education programs, and information and referrals to animal lovers throughout Oswego County.
Located at 29 W. Seneca St., Oswego, NY.
Email: [email protected]
Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.