MPCA Warns of Blue-Green Algae Dangers for Dogs

Two Dogs Have Died in Minnesota This Summer After Coming into Contact with Blue-Green Algae

DULUTH, Minn. – A toxic form of algae continues to take over area lakes, rivers, and ponds.

Just this summer, two dogs in Minnesota have died after swimming in water tainted by blue-green algae.

As we reach the dog days of summer, officials who research the growth often are looking to alert pet owners of potential danger.

“You can’t identify blue-green algae just by looking at it,” said Lucie Amundsen with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.

Warm, serene summers in Minnesota are posing a threat to both humans and four legged friends.

“Not all algae is toxic and it’s really hard to tell the difference,” said Amundsen.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) is on a mission to educate pet owners before water fun turns fatal.

“Dogs do not care if they swim in algae and if they swim through it, they tend to drink a lot of that water and then they come out and lick their coat,” said Amundsen.

Weather conditions this season are ideal in the upper Midwest for blue-green algae to thrive.

“We have blue-green algae ever where from the Iowa boarder all the way up to Canada,” said Amundsen.

Environmental officials say it’s beyond difficult to know whether an algae plume is toxic…or not.

“All you really need is a pond that is warm, and nutrients,” said Amundsen.

Amundsen says there are steps humans can take to limit the potential growth of blue-green algae in lakes, rivers and ponds.

“You don’t want to use phosphorus fertilizer; there are non-phosphorous brands out there,” said Amundsen.

It’s also important to keep lawn clippings from getting into storm drains, and always pick up your pet’s poo.

“We’re seeing a lot more blue-green algae; we do believe it’s related to climate change. That warm water plus nutrients equal blue-green algae,” said Amundsen.

For those looking to test the waters before taking a chance, there is one test to check off the list. Take a stick, and find a plume of algae near the shoreline.

“You stick it in and if it comes out like it’s covered in green paint, that is a likely scenario, and if it smells horrible,” said Amundsen. “It doesn’t mean the whole lake is toxic but you don’t want to be swimming through it and you especially don’t want your pets swimming through it.”

As pets hit the trails and take the occasional dip to cool off, health officials hope owners will think twice before those paws proceed into waterways.

“People should know that it’s just possible here in the Northland. It’s not just going to be southern Minnesota anymore,” said Amundsen.

Dogs exposed to blue-green algae can experience symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, rash, difficulty breathing, weakness, liver failure, and even seizures.

If you suspect your animal has come into contact with a plume, seek veterinary care immediately.

Click here for more information regarding plumes of blue-green algae in Minnesota.

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