Beware of algae poisoning in dogs

As much fun as it may be to let the dog jump, play and swim freely in the water during
summer, it can actually be very dangerous for the dog! Dogs should definitely be allowed to swim, but not at any time and especially not anywhere. This is especially true in high summer (and early autumn) when algae blooms are at their peak (although they can also occur before high summer).

During the algal bloom, a kind of poison is formed in the water - if the dog accidentally ingests this, it can lead to algal poisoning, which can actually kill the dog. So if you want to let your dog swim and bathe during the summer, keep an extra close eye to avoid this! You can keep up to date via the Danish Agency for Marine and Water Management, SMHI and the County Administrative Board to find out if there is a risk of algal blooms in the water in your area.

What is algae poisoning?

But what exactly is this thing called algal poisoning? Why is it that my dog could become deathly ill if it happens to ingest water during an algal bloom? Well, the fact that algae blooms are something that all dog owners should be extra careful about has to do with the fact that these blooms are poisonous.

When the water gets nice and warm and nutrient-rich, which is mainly in high summer and early autumn, algae blooms can occur. This can occur in both lakes, seas and other water bodies, mainly where the water is fresh and stagnant. At the time of the bloom, the water may have a cloudy, yellowish or green surface. But dangerous algal blooms can also occur even when the water looks clean.

Exposure to these toxins from the algal bloom can cause your dog to suffer from poisoning, which unfortunately can be fatal. Depending on the type of toxin, symptoms can differ quite a bit. The poisoning can damage the dog's internal organs, but it can also cause circulatory problems and, in the worst case, lead to death. Symptoms can appear very quickly, in severe cases death can occur within an hour of exposure to algal toxin.

Examples of symptoms of algal poisoning:

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Tremors

  • Weakness

  • Pale mucous membranes

  • Cramps

  • Unconsciousness

My dog has algae poisoning - what should I do?

Do you suspect your dog has algae poisoning? If so, it is very important that you act quickly. Whether it is just a suspicion that the dog may have bathed in water that is poisoned, or whether it is a suspicion that the dog is showing the above symptoms when bathing. The first thing to do is to go to your nearest vet. Something that may be useful to do before that is to shower the dog with plain water to remove the poison - only do this if there is time. On your way to the vet, call them and explain that you are coming in because of suspected algal poisoning. You should also make sure that the dog can't lick up any more of the toxic water that may be in its fur, by holding the dog or by pulling on a collar if you have one. Be quick and then let the vet do his job as best he can. Unfortunately there is no cure for this type of poison but the vet can provide supportive treatment.

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