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Beware, Blue-Green Algae Can Be Deadly

Don't Let Your Dog Drink the Water: Blue-Green Algae Can Be Deadly

There are many dogs that love to play outdoors, and sometimes that means heading out to area lakes, ponds and rivers. If your dog is a reasonably good swimmer, you might not have a lot of serious concerns if the want to splash in a little shallow water to retrieve their ball or frisbee. What's a little dirt and muck? It's natural, and it all washes off. No harm, no foul, right? Unfortunately, this assumption can be wrong, possibly fatally wrong.

Natural Does Not Mean Safe

As lake and pond waters get especially warm in the midsummer into the fall they create an ideal breeding ground for a type of toxic blue green algae called blooms, and if a dog ingests this, the consequences can be fatal. While it sometimes seems that dog owners are bombarded with safety tips, it is especially important that you keep yourself and your dog away from water with blue green algae. If exposure is caught early an emergency vet in Manitoba can induce vomiting and provide other assistance that may help your dog's immune system fight back, but even then there are no guarantees.

What Makes Blue-Green Algae So Dangerous?

Blue green algae isn't always toxic. Whether it is or not depends on whether or not it has had the chance to form toxic colonies called "blooms." Although it sounds like the name of a plant, it is actually a microscopic organism found in freshwater lakes, streams, brackish water (mix of fresh and salt water), backyard ponds, and marine water. When certain warm weather conditions are present the combination of sunlight, phosphorus, and nitrogen combine to create toxic blooms, Ingesting blooms can cause severe illness and death in a variety of animals, including other pets, livestock, or humans. The algae has many toxins, but two of the more dangerous ones are microcytins, which cause liver damage, and anatoxins that attack the central nervous system. Toxins can enter the body by skin contact, inhaling vapor with the bacteria, or swallowing. The worst reactions come from swallowing.

If there is an exposure to a microcystin, the signs of liver damage include weakness, vomiting, diarrhea, yellowing of the skin, black or bloody stools, pale or yellow gums, seizures and coma.

For an exposure to an Anatoxin you're more likely to notice excessive drooling, tearing, muscle tremors, paralysis, or difficulty breathing.

Reaction Speed is Vital

If there is any chance that your dog was exposed to dangerous blue-green algae it is important that they see an emergency vet in Manitoba right away. At Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital & Wellness Centre in Winnipeg, Manitoba, we are a full service 24 hour emergency and critical care center that has better resources on site in order to react to your pet's emergency and give them the best chance of recovery. Most veterinarians don't have the tools to diagnose algae poisoning, and if you adopt a wait and see attitude, there's a good chance your pet won't make it.

A Dog's Risk is Higher

While toxic blue algae is dangerous to a wide variety of animals, including humans, cats, horses, and other livestock, dogs are at a higher risk simply because of a dog's curious and generally non-squeamish nature. If you live near water, or take your dog to swim in the lake, you need to be especially careful and stay on the lookout for any blue-green algae warnings.

Not the Only Murky Waters

Exposure to the wrong lakes and streams aren't the only murky waters that pets get themselves into. They might find your chocolate stash, or nibble on a plant that's toxic, or get injured by a car or another animal, and they don't necessarily find trouble during typical office hours.

Call Us When You Have An Emergency! We Are Your Caring Vet in Manitoba

At Bridgewater Veterinary Hospital & Wellness Centre we are ready 24 hours a day to assess your pet's emergency medical needs, as well as situations that are less dire, but just as important, such as vaccinations, and well pet visits. If you have an emergency, or you're looking for a caring vet in Manitoba, contact us at 204-452-0911 to discuss your pet's needs.

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