Blue-green algae poses threat to dogs, humans

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – Hot weather brings lots of opportunities to cool down like going to a local lake or pond for a swim.

But what if the lake you are swimming in has harmful toxins that can make you sick and potentially kill your dog?

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According to Georgia Power, the owners of Lake Sinclair and Lake Oconee, lakes change in color when there is a large amount of algae forming. Some of that algae can be fatal if consumed.

Blue-green algae contains green pigments and grows faster in warm water that gets a lot of sun.

According to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, “Under certain circumstances, these algae may grow rapidly to form dense accumulations known as blooms. When blooms are formed by toxin-producing bacteria, it is generally referred as a harmful algal bloom.”



Georgia EPD also says, “Visual signs of an algae bloom include surface water discoloration, pea soup or spilled green/blue paint appearance, reduced transparency, thick mat-like accumulation of scum, and/or dead fish.”

The EPD says that if dogs and wildlife expose themselves to this harmful algae by drinking the water, licking their fur after swimming or consuming scum that can sit on the tops of lakes, it can be fatal.

Dr. Stuart Slappey is a veterinarian in Perry and he says if your pet starts experiencing issues after a lake trip, get them to a local vet immediately.

“Keep an eye out for signs of discoloration in lakes and try to not let dogs drink the water,” Dr. Slappey said.

Signs

Signs that your dog consumed the blue-green algae include the following: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • yellowing of eyes and gums
  • Rash
  • stomach problems
  • liver damage
  • death

A recent pet death at Allatoona Lake in Marietta shows that a dog consumed blue-green algae and by the time the owner took her dog to the vet, the dog was brain dead.

Vets urge residents around the area to keep an eye out while at bodies of water during this hot period.