With summer officially here, pet owners are out enjoying everything the season has to offer with their furry friends. Whether you are hitting the lake or traveling with your dogs, toxic blue green algae poisoning in dogs is effecting dogs from coast to coast. Naturally, as a pet owner, your number one priority is the safety of your pets. Read on to learn more about blue green algae poisoning in dogs and how to keep your dog safe this season.
Blue green algae poisoning in dogs: what every pet owner should know
Trupanion veterinarian, Dr. Caroline Wilde weighs in on the popular question of what is blue green algae poisoning in dogs
What is blue green algae?
“Blue-green algae is a bacteria (cyanobacteria) that grows in slow-moving or stagnant water, such as ponds, lakes, reservoirs, and slow-moving streams. It can appear as a blue-green film on the surface of the water, and the toxin can persist even after the algae are no longer visible. Also, these bacteria reproduce most rapidly at higher temperatures and are therefore most common in late summer/early fall. Not all blue-green algae are toxic, but there are some that produce substances that are toxic to the dog’s liver and nervous system, and there is no way to tell just by looking whether or not the algae is toxic.”
How does blue green algae poisoning occur in dogs?
While you want your dogs to get outside and have fun this summer, it is important to consider how this condition takes place in dogs. “Blue green algae poisoning in dogs occurs when the toxin is absorbed through the intestines after ingestion of contaminated water while swimming or through licking their fur after swimming in contaminated water,” says Wilde. In addition, there is not a definite timeline for the poison to take place and affect your dog. For example, your pet does not have to be in the water for a set amount of time for toxicity to take place. In essence, it could take just a few minutes if in contaminated water.
The most common clinical signs of blue green algae toxicity
feel your dog may be experiencing signs of toxicity upon being in a lake, pond,
or reservoir, consider the following –
Shallow or difficulty breathing
continues, “Dogs should be bathed after swimming to wash off any potential
algae, and if you are concerned that your pet has ingested blue green algae,
you should seek veterinary care immediately.”
Blue green algae poisoning in dogs: Trupanion historical claims data
We sat down with our Trupanion data team to look at our historical claims data for blue green algae toxicity. In addition, the data shows 28 pets claimed for toxic blue green algae ingestion, the states impacted vary by region. Also, the highest-paid claim for blue green algae toxicity is $3,146.
Consider the following list of pet claims by state:
A treatment plan for blue green algae poisoning in dogs
Most importantly, blue green algae toxicity should be taken very seriously. In fact, “the best course of action is to avoid stagnant water where blue green algae proliferate, and if there is any question regarding the safety of the water, I would recommend avoiding it,” points out Wilde. Naturally, there is no way to know if a body of water is contaminated, but there are resources available for pet owners. “I would also recommend checking local public health websites to see if the body of water has been tested. Although a negative test does not rule out potential exposure,” states Wilde.
Safety first for your best friend
Blue green algae poisoning can affect dogs of all shapes, sizes, and ages. While it might be hard to resist a summer swim, if you are at all unsure of the water conditions, it might be a chance to choose another summer dog-friendly activity.
Consider taking your pup for a walk, partake in a pet-friendly game of fetch, or enjoy some nice rest and relaxation in the comforts of your own home.
is a digital content writer and editor for Trupanion. She spends her workday writing for the Trupanion blog. She loves writing about pets, being inspired by pets, and luckily gets to hang out with her rescue dogs all day long. In her free time, she enjoys exploring and traveling with her family. Her work can be featured on the DOGTV blog, KitNipBox blog, Get Your Pet blog, Fansided website, among others.