Blue-green algae poisoning is a canine threat
The following was submitted by Wakefield resident Richard Ruthfield. Every year in Lake Quannapowitt and other ponds and lakes in the immediate area develop harmful blooms of algae which produce toxins lethal to canines. Reports have recently surfaced of blue-green algae intoxications in pets. Many canine owners don’t realize the severity of the threat these toxins pose to animals, and it’s easy to overlook. During this recent spike in blue-green algae cases, It is important to make sure pet owners have everything you need to know to keep pets safe. Every year in Lake Quannapowitt and other ponds and lakes in the immediate area develop harmful blooms of algae which produce toxins lethal to canines.
With warm summer days, many dogs look forward to leaping into a nearby pond or swimming in a lake. Before you let them leap, take some precautions regarding harmful algal blooms.
Harmful blooms associated with deadly canine effects usually involve cyanobacteria or blue-green algae. Do not be fooled by the name. While green or blue-green masses are common, blooms can also appear red or brown or even white at the end of the life cycle. There may be large “mats” of algae along the shore, or the water itself may appear colored or foamy. Sadly, they can also be invisible and harmful.
How do these toxins affect your dog? Dogs can lap up toxin laden water after or during swimming. Even if your dog licks to clean off his paws after wading, he may ingest poisons Not all these cyanobacteria produce deadly toxins, but it is impossible to tell just by looking at the water.
The deadly microbes can produce two distinct types of toxins. Neither of them has an antidote. The first is microcystins. As Pet poison Helpline notes, these toxins attack the liver, causing damage, or eventually in most cases, liver failure and death. Dogs show classic liver failure signs, which include vomiting, diarrhea, jaundice, or pale membranes, and often black or tarry stools. These signs can than progress into seizures, coma, and shock. Many dogs hang on for a few days before dying. Intensive care started almost immediately after exposure may a help.
The second toxin class is anatoxins. These are neurotoxins and are rapidly fatal. The first hints of a problem are excessive drooling, followed by muscle tremors, paralysis, and difficulty breathing as the muscles for respiration are paralyzed. These dogs often die before they get to veterinary treatment. Immediate use of anti-seizure medications and providing oxygen may circumvent death,
If you suspect your dog has been exposed, rinse him thoroughly and head immediately to the nearest veterinary clinic.
Most states have teams checking public-access water in areas like state parks. You can check the status of your favorite swimming holes there.
For more information see Dogs and Harmful algal Blooms (HABs) Fact sheet at https://seagrant.sunysb.edu/btide/pdfs/HABsFactSheet-0814.pdf