Every year I hear of people whose dogs have become seriously ill or have even died as a result of drinking water that contains Cyanobacteria, and the more we are aware of this toxic algae the less pets will be affected – especially as we hit the dry summer months.
There have been recent reports of this highly toxic and dangerous blue-green algae in the Surrey and Hampshire area – Basingstoke Canal from Ash to Greywell.
Cyanobacteria – or blue-green algae – is a toxic algae that forms in slow moving or stagnant water, such as ponds and lakes. During drought or when there is little chance of rainfall, low water levels and low air circulation results in higher production of algae. Algae naturally occurs in water, but in such a climate, large toxic blooms or scum is formed, often near the water’s edge.
Now imagine an owner out walking with their dog off the lead. Dog is warm from the heat and exercise, dog stops for a drink, dog quickly becomes ill. It can take just a few hours for the toxins to take effect, so it’s essential that you can recognise the symptoms. Toxins can attack the liver or the nervous system.
Symptoms of liver toxins include:
- Diarrhoea with the presence of blood
- Pale mucous membranes
- Mental instability
A dog affected by toxins in its nervous system may present the following symptoms:
- Muscle tremors
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty moving
In either case, depending on the amount of algae ingested, a dog can die as a result.
So I would implore all dog owners to be alert to this dreadful algae. When you’re out walking look out for warning notices near bodies of water. But even if there aren’t any official signs, don’t just assume the water is okay for your dog to drink – it would be much safer to avoid.