Keep Your Dogs Safe From Potentially Fatal Blue-Green Algae
Police in Kent have warned owners not to let their dogs drink from a local fishing lake after three animals died. Ten dogs were taken down to the Brooklands Lake, near Powder Mill Lane in Dartmouth, on May 17th by two dog walkers. Three of the dogs, Pippa, Marley and Stanley, became ill before even leaving the lake, and suffered fits. They were taken to a nearby veterinary hospital in Sidcup but, sadly, they died shortly afterwards. The other seven dogs also became seriously ill and are still being treated. Police cordoned off the lake and the Environment Agency immediately began testing the water for contamination. Initially, the local council and police couldn’t rule out foul play but it was later announced that Blue-Green Algae had been discovered at Brooklands Lake.
What is Blue-Green Algae?
– Blue-Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) can appear in bodies of freshwater such as rivers, streams, lakes and ponds.
– When the water level is low, such as in warm and dry spells, there tends to be a large increase in algae production.
– When this algae dies off, the gas from the failing colony causes the live algae to rise to the surface.
– Not all Blue-Green Algae is toxic but it is impossible to know without testing.
– Most algae doesn’t produce toxins but the ones that do, even swallowed in tiny amounts, can be fatal.
What are the Symptoms?
– If dogs drink or lick water contaminated by Blue-Green Algae it can cause liver damage.
– This toxicity can then spread to the entire nervous system, which can often be fast-acting and fatal.
– Signs of liver damage can include vomiting, diarrhoea, blood in the stool, lethargy or depression, jaundice, seizures and disorientation.
– Indicators of neurological symptoms can include difficulty breathing, tremors, convulsions or fitting and paralysis.
– There is no antidote for the harmful toxins created by Blue-Green Algae, so it is imperative that you seek medical attention for your dog as soon as symptoms occur.
Ways to avoid Blue-Green Algae.
– Look out for large greenish-blue blooms on the surface level of the water.
– Strong winds can often blow the harmful algae to the shoreline. Keep an eye out for foaming, which can often be mistaken for sewage pollution.
– Many lakes may advise keeping your dogs on a leash, READ the signs and FOLLOW their instructions.
– If you are unsure, DON’T let your dogs run free. It’s not worth the risk.
– If you do spot an area of water that looks even slightly suspicious, notify the Environment Agency immediately on their 24 hour incident hotline: 0800 80 70 60
– It isn’t just dogs that are affected, so watch out for your cats near large bodies of freshwater also.
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