29 June 2021

Blue Green Algae

Claire Smith, Vet

We have recently been made aware by the British Veterinary Association – BVA that they have seen an increase in cases of blue-green algae. This is something that all dog parents should be aware of – especially those with dogs who enjoy a good swim!

Blue green algae, or cyanobacteria, are 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.

Blue green algae is often present in still bodies of water such as ponds and lakes which we have quite a few of around Sandwich and Deal. During spells of hot dry weather, the algae rapidly multiplies and blooms appear. These bloom can cause the water to become cloudy, blocking sunlight to plants and organisms below and the water may also take on a blue or green tinge. You may also spot a scum around the edges of infected water.

Dogs can swallow it by drinking water from an affected lake, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim. 

Symptoms of exposure can appear within a few minutes or hours and can include: 

• Vomiting
• Diarrhoea
• Drooling
• Disorientation
• Trouble breathing
• Seizures
• Blood in faeces

If left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be rapidly fatal. Please contact your vet if you are concerned you dog may have been exposed.

All sightings of algal blooms should be reported to the environment agency on 0800 807060.

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