Dog owners warned over highly toxic blue-green algae

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The British Veterinary Association (BVA) says animals can be exposed to the toxic algae even if they don’t go into the water

Dog owners are being warned of a toxic bacteria that lives in freshwater during hot weather and can have deadly effects.

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Often found at the edge of lakes or ponds, blue-green algae contain extremely harmful toxins that can prevent a dog’s liver from functioning properly

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With the weather expected to get warmer over the weekend, owners are urged to be aware of the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning if their dog has been swimming or paddling in open water such as rivers and lakes.

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What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae is a term that describes a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria and is found in freshwater bodies such as lakes, ponds, canals, rivers and reservoirs.

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The chemicals produced by the bacteria are highly toxic to dogs and also dangerous to other animals including cats, horses, birds and cows and can even be harmful to humans if ingested in small amounts.

Not all blue-green algae are toxic, but bodies with algal blooms should be avoided.

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The algae appear as green or greenish-brown foam on the water surface, and dogs can ingest them by drinking water from an affected body of water or licking their fur after swimming.

Dogs can even come into contact with the bacteria without going into the water, as toxic flowers can be blown to the edges of bodies of water.

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What are the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning?

The types and effects of blue-green algae vary, but common symptoms include:

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  • dribbling
  • fatigue
  • Vomit
  • Diarrhea
  • cramps
  • trouble breathing
  • organ failure

Signs often begin within an hour but can appear within minutes or even be delayed by a few days.

Some species of blue-green algae can be deadly, killing a dog in as little as 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water

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If caught early enough, a vet will try to get your dog to vomit to try to flush the toxins out of the body. There is no antidote, but early medical intervention gives your dog the best chance of survival.

Unfortunately, blue-green algae poisoning often results in fatal liver failure, so it’s important for owners to be vigilant.

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How can I protect my dog?

canine experts Kennel Store has provided dog owners with advice on how to protect their pets from danger. Top tips include:

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  • Keep your dog away from water that you suspect contains blue-green algae
  • Don’t let your dog swim or paddle in waters that contain blue-green algae
  • Do not let your dog drink water that may contain blue-green algae. Wind often blows blue-green algae to the edges of ponds and lakes, and higher concentrations of toxins can reside where your dog is more likely to drink.
  • When walking, pay attention to warning signs and danger notices and follow the instructions given

If you are concerned about your dog and he is showing signs of blue-green algae poisoning, you should contact your vet immediately. The effects of blue-green algae can be extremely rapid and it is important that your veterinarian intervenes and can advise you in good time to ensure the best outcome.”

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