The Dangers of Swimming and Drinking From Ponds, Lochs and Lakes

A major concern throughout the summer months is blue-green algae, a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria containing a number of different toxins which are harmful to dogs.  It’s not an actual- algae but an organism that blooms then clumps together in ponds, lakes and streams and often gives the appearance of an algae formation.

Alone the algae are not visible to the naked eye.  However, when clumped together, often in stagnant or slow-moving water, it can look like a green blue or brown film on the water’s surface.  Blue-green algae formation is most likely to occur during the late spring and summer months when it’s warm and rainfall is less.

Look out for warning signs near bodies of water in the areas you walk your dog.  If your dog is a swimmer keep them on a lead or avoid walking in these areas during the summer months.   Even if the algae is not visible in the stream, loch, lake or pond it does not mean it is not present and ultimately harmful to your dog.

Common exposure is from swimming, playing in or drinking contaminated water.  Even if your dog does not drink the contaminated water they can be poisoned from licking water from their coats after a swim.

Symptoms of Blue Green Algae Ingestion

Symptoms can arise very quickly however on occasion can take several days to appear.  Symptoms may include Diarrhoea and vomiting and often excessive drooling.  Other more serious symptoms may include seizures, weakness, breathing difficulties, confusion and disorientation or your dog may collapse and become unconscious.

Contact your vet immediately and let them know of your blue-green algae concerns if your dog shows any of these signs following swimming or paddling in the water.

No antidote

Blue-green algae poisoning can often be deadly with no available antidote and exposure can also lead to future fatal liver failure.  A vet will most likely try to make your dog sick, in an attempt to flush out any of the toxins from the bacteria.

Keep your hairy hounds safe this summer, when out and about for long periods of time carry fresh water to keep your dog hydrated. Teach your dog not to drink from natural water sources unless you’re 100% sure they are safe.  Keep your dog on a lead if unsure and keep a watch out for blue-green algae on any bodies of water you and your dog are visiting.

Happy Hounds, Happy Days!