Be Aware of Algal Blooms this Summer
At this time of year care needs to be taken with dogs around streams, rivers and lakes due to to the possibility of algal blooms. Algal blooms are due to the growth of potentially toxic Cyanobacteria which occur naturally in waterways. Cyanobacteria can produce a wide range of toxins that can cause poisoning. In warm dry conditions these Cyanobacteria produce algal mats in nutrient rich, slow flowing or stagnant water. It occurs naturally in stony rivers where it forms a soft, blackish mat on rocks. It can be washed off and dry on river banks where mats look like dried leaves or cow pats. The mats can either be at the bottom or floating on the surface and may contain toxins. Dogs appear to be attracted to the drying mats and are known to get sick from either investigating the mats or drinking water with the toxin in it.
Dogs are affected by contact and ingestion of toxins. Signs of intoxication include muscle tremor, lethargy, breathing difficulty, paralysis, convulsions and death. Dogs are advised to be kept away from the river's edge. Any dog showing these signs after being in a river bed should receive immediate veterinary attention. The signs are similar to those of heat stroke, which also requires immediate attention.