Very sadly in June we had to report that we saw a suspected fatal exposure to blue green algae in our area. We reported the incident to the relevant authorities but felt would like to make clients aware. The location of this particular incident was in Loxwood, but we would like to emphasise that this can be found in many areas.
Blue green algae is often present in still water bodies such as ponds and lakes but during spells of hot dry weather, the algae rapidly multiplies and a so called ‘bloom’ appears. This bloom can cause the water to become cloudy, blocking sunlight to plants and organisms below and the water may also take on a blue or green tinge. There may also be a collection of scum around the edges of the affected water.
The bloom and scum can produce extremely harmful toxins which are likely to continue being released right up until the beginning of winter. As the weather warms up a dip in the local pond or lake is a very tempting prospect for our dogs – particularly those who love a swim – but if your dog swallows even a very small volume of water containing these toxins, or licks his or her coat after swimming they are at risk. These toxins are highly poisonous to all animals but dogs are particularly vulnerable due to their habits of drinking and swimming in all types of water, regardless of quality.
Signs can include:
• Difficulty breathing
• Excessive salivation
• Loss of consciousness
Your dog may show a combination of these signs but if you know the dog has been exposed please do not wait until signs develop. If left untreated a dog that has been exposed to blue green algae toxins can progress to liver failure and death – rapid intervention is critical.
Please be aware that you cannot tell that an algal bloom is toxic by looking at it. As the risks are so serious it is safest to assume that it is toxic and keep your dog well away. All sightings of algal blooms should be reported to the environment agency on 0800 80 70 60 and the landowner has a duty to post warning signs.
If you are concerned that your dog may have come into contact with affected water please contact us immediately. Our 24hour line 01903 746028 is manned by qualified vets and nurses throughout the day and night who will be able to advise you of the best course of action. Please do not delay – the sooner we can attend to the patient the better the chance of a successful outcome.
*Further update, after tests, no blue/green algae has been found so far, however the advice remains the same, please avoid all ponds and lakes*