Dog owners are advised to be vigilant for signs of blue-green algae when exercising their dogs near lakes, rivers or ponds. The Environments Agency and local councils will put up signs to alert owners when a body of water is known to be affected by this toxic algae, which for our area includes Bodenham Lakes. However, not all affected areas will have been identified so owners should be aware of what to look out for. There are many species of blue green algae but blooms generally appear as green to green-brown scum, seen as sheets or in clumps on the surface of water. As the algae decays it develops a bluish tinge and an unpleasant smell like rotting vegetation.
If a dog drinks from affected water or grooms after swimming symptoms can develop rapidly within minutes to hours, depending on the species of algae ingested. Symptoms of intoxication can include vomiting, diarrhoea (with or without blood), salivating, disorientation, changes in breathing, lethargy, weakness and seizures. Left untreated blue green algae intoxication can lead to liver damage, blood clotting disorders and can be fatal. If you are concerned your dog has been exposed to blue green algae or is showing symptoms please seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.