Porky and Buddy Pet Health – What Is Blue-Green Algae?

Porky and Buddy

Dear Porky and Buddy,
Here is one more thing to worry about maybe. I read on the internet that it’s blue-green algae season and that the stuff can kill humans and other animals, especially dogs. Is that right? What is blue-green algae?  My dog Lily loves to swim wherever and whenever she sees water.  Should I really  be worried?

Dear Ben,
Yes you should. We love to joke around, but not about this.

Dogs that enjoy swimming and playing in lakes and ponds may be exposed to blue-green algae.

This form of algae is found in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds. It can produce poisons that affect people, livestock and pets that swim in and drink from the algae-contaminated water.

The algae grow to form huge “blooms” that give the water a blue-green appearance or a “pea soup” like color.

They are most abundant during periods of hot weather in mid- to late-summer months, such as right now.

While most blue-green algae blooms do not produce toxins, it is not possible to determine the presence of toxins without testing.

So all blooms should be considered potentially toxic.

Even very small exposures, such a few mouthfuls of algae-contaminated water, may result in fatal poisoning.

Clinical signs of poisoning vary based on the specific toxin involved. Microcystins can result in liver damage or failure.

Signs of liver injury include vomiting, diarrhea, blood in stool or black, tarry stool, weakness, pale mucous membranes, jaundice, seizures, disorientation, coma, and shock.

Anatoxins result in neurotoxicity evidenced by excessive secretions (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, etc.), neurologic signs (including muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, paralysis, etc.), blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes, and difficulty breathing.

Unfortunately, there is no antidote for the toxins produced by blue-green algae.

Immediate aggressive veterinary care to treat the symptoms is critical.

If you suspect your dog was exposed to blue-green algae, contact your veterinarian right away.

Better, yet, try to avoid this potentially lethal danger by carefully monitoring Lily’s exposure to bodies of water during the summer months.

The thing about blue-green algae is that you can see it.

Go online to take a look at pictures of it. It’s great that Lily loves to swim, but take her to places where you don’t see any suspicious looking algae.

For a safe and fun fall adventure with Lily sign up for Every Dog Has Its Day, on September 27 at Fallbrook Recreation Center, 103 Thompson Road, Oswego.

It’s the 10th Annual 5K-9 Race and 1-Mile Family Walk and Pets and People Celebration, with registration starting at 11 a.m.

You can find out more and sign up online at www.oswegohumane.org

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 110 W. Second St., Oswego, NY.

Phone: (315) 207-1070.

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.oswegohumane.org

Because People and Pets Are Good for Each Other.