Scientifically known as Cyanobacteria, Blue-Green Algae is a bacteria that is incredibly harmful to both people and pets. It’s a microscopic plant-based organism that prospers in ponds, rivers, lakes and streams that are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen. Generally, it is not visibly noticed in the water. However, populations can grow, creating a very large bloom. They primarily present as blue-green in colour or can also be olive green or red. Blooms typically grow in late summer to early fall and thrive in stagnant, warm and shallow water. Unfortunately, these blooms also present with very distinct odours: fresh blooms may smell like freshly mowed grass, while older blooms smell like rotting garbage.
If you happen to suspect a blue-green algae bloom, it is imperative that you and your pet avoid it as many varieties produce toxins that can be dangerous and even deadly. Do not use, drink, swim or bathe in infected water and restrict pets and livestock access.
How do I know if my pet has been exposed?
Symptoms can occur in as little as 15 minutes after exposure or can take several days to manifest. Signs an owner should look out for are:
- Vomiting and/or diarrhea
- Weakness and/or staggering
- Difficulty breathing
- Convulsions or seizures
If your pet shows any of these signs, please contact your veterinarian as it was highly likely to be an emergency.
Written by: Meghan Toope, RVT