A veterinary body has warned animal owners to be aware of the dangers of toxic blue-green algae growth when near freshwater bodies this summer.
According to the British Veterinary Association (BVA), warm weather brings an increased risk of blue-green algae or cyanobacteria.
This is a group of bacteria that can contain dangerous toxins which can be harmful and potentially fatal to pets, livestock and birds if ingested even in small quantities.
The algae may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water like lakes and ponds.
Dogs can swallow it by drinking water from an impacted lake, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim.
Blue green algae
Moreover, according to the BVA, it is also possible for dogs to come into contact with it even if they do not go for a paddle, as toxic blooms may be blown to the edges of water bodies.
The warning comes after several recent news reports of algal bloom sightings in lakes and ponds of rivers.
It has been reported that in recent weeks, four dogs in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, and one dog in Conwy, Wales died after possible contact with blue-green algae.
British Veterinary Association president Malcolm Morley, has highlighted that being aware of the symptoms of exposure is “vital” as there is no known antidote for the toxins and prompt treatment is critical to help give a chance of recovery.
Symptoms, Morley explained, can appear within a few minutes or hours of exposure, and commonly include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures, and blood in faeces.
If you have any concerns or are worried your pet may have had contact with blue-green algae, speak to your vet as soon as you can.
Top tips for pet owners
- Look out for any warning signs near water bodies;
- Keep pets on a lead and by your side around water bodies known or suspected to have a blue-green algal bloom – Do not let pets swim in it or drink from it;
- If your dog has been swimming outside, wash its coat thoroughly with clean water afterwards;
- Seek emergency veterinary treatment if you are concerned your pet may have ingested toxic algae;
- There are other ways to help your dog keep cool in the warmer weather: paddling pools can give them somewhere to cool off and you should always make sure they have access to clean water and shade if outdoors.