Pet owners around the United States are seeing their beloved dogs die after letting them cool off in waters that harbor toxic algae.
Toxic blue-green algae is actually not algae, but a toxic microorganism called cyanobacteriathat contains chlorophyll – which makes it look similar to plant matter. It thrives in warm and stagnant freshwater lakes and ponds that are fed by fertilizer runoff and sewage.
The bacteria can cause skin irritation and gastrointestinal issues in humans. It can also kill animals within just 15 minutes of exposure.
Seasonal outbreaks are common. Every summer, people and pets get sick from exposure to cyanobacteria.
According to media reports, bans are in place for swimming and drinking from bodies of water in Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, Texas, and Mississippi. The blue-green algae has also been identified in New Jersey’s Lake Hopatcong, and in Toledo, Ohio – where strong winds have mixed the blooms with Lake Erie’sdeep waters.
One patch is large enough to be seen from space. Toxic blooms often look like green paint floating on water. They can also appear to be bluish, brownish, or reddish-green before eventually breaking down in the water to be destroyed naturally.
Last week, a couple in North Carolina tried to give their three dogs some relief from the heat by letting the dogs splash around in a nearby pond. Within 15 minutes of leaving the water, one of their dogs started to suffer from seizures. When they arrived at the veterinarian’s office, another dog started to decline. Then finally, their third dog followed. Sadly, by midnight, all three dogs were dead. That is according to media reports.
All three died from ingesting harmful blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, in the water.
In Texas, three dogs also died after exposure to the toxic algae.
A similar story happened in Georgia, when a couple took their border collie to Lake Allatoona. Shortly after splashing around, the dog began to vomit and was brain dead by the time they got to the vet’s office.
This summer has seen an unusually intense wave of algae blooms that have shut down many lakes and beaches. Scientists say climate change is probably a factor in the increase of cyanobacteria. This bacteria can grow in dense clusters and produce toxic substances. An increase in the frequency and intensity of rainstorms has also pushed fertilizer runoff into waterways.
Dogs are particularly vulnerable to cyanobacteria because they swallow so much water when they swim. So, be aware of this when you take your loving, furry friends out to play this summer. All of us at Big Dog Ranch Rescue want every dog to be healthy and happy!