Avoid Water That Looks Like This
For many dogs, summer often means swimming in lakes, rivers, or ponds. Along with the standard water safety steps (close observation, doggie PFDs, etc) and post-swimming ear cleaning to avoid ear irritation and infections, there’s something else you need to be aware of when you take your dogs swimming (or hiking, or camping near water) … blue-green algae.
These dangerous algal blooms are most common during periods of high heat.
Dogs that drink water containing blue-green algae, or that groom the algae off their coat after swimming in such water, can exhibit a range of signs, including:
- Uncoordinated walking (“Ataxia”)
If you’re noticing these signs in your dog, at any time, they need to be seen by a veterinarian right away. These are very serious signs indeed, and may well indicate liver failure from blue-green algae exposure.
Here’s more information on blue-green algae in dogs.
Danger for dogs and people – lurking in ponds and lakes
Oh, and be aware, these algae aren’t just a problem for your pets — they can cause illness in children and adults, too! To find out if there are any blue-green algae warnings in your state, just google “blue green algae (insert your state)” or check out these state-by-state resources: interactive map of state's blue-green algae labs and monitoring and state-by-state harmful algal bloom monitoring resources.
Using Technology to Combat Blue Green Algal Blooms: Here's a great tool to help you and your pets (and other family members), as well as other people and their pets and families. Check out and download the bloomWatch app (available for both iOS and Android) to learn more about blue green algae and to help pet owners, scientists, and others find and monitor these dangerous blooms. Citizen science at its best, and working for everyone!
You can also follow the social media feeds of CyanoTracker, a citizen science program out of University of Georgia also focused on educating about, tracking, and combating blue green algae. Here's CyanoTracker on Twitter, and CyanoTracker on Facebook.
For more water-related hazards, check out our Dog Swimming: Safety in Rivers, Lakes, and Oceans article.