BVA warns owners about blue-green algae

The BVA is urging vets to warn dog walkers to be on the lookout for a toxic form of blue-green algae that can be potentially fatal to dogs swimming this summer.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are a group of bacteria that can contain dangerous toxins that can be potentially fatal to dogs.

The algae can appear as a brown and green-coloured scum, and is often ingested by dogs licking their fur after swimming in a contaminated body of water.

Symptoms of exposure usually occur in the first few hours after exposure and is evidenced through vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces.

Blooms of the algae have already been discovered in bodies of water across the UK, including locations in Scotland’s Central Belt, as well as in Derbyshire, the midlands, Essex, Pembrokeshire and the Brecon Beacons.

Earlier in June, a dog died at Loch Awe in the Scottish Highlands.

BVA senior vice-president Daniella Dos Santos said: “It’s been a warm start to the summer and we have started hearing of increasing numbers of blue-green algae sightings across the UK.

“We’d urge pet owners to keep [dogs] on a lead during walks near water bodies confirmed to have algal blooms. The majority of blooms are toxic and it is impossible to tell the difference visually, so it is better to be safe than sorry.

“There is currently no known antidote for the toxins, so prompt veterinary treatment is the only way to tackle their effects and ensure a good chance of recovery for your pet.”

She said owners should seek emergency veterinary treatment as soon as possible if a dog was suspected of algae exposure.

‘Crucial role’
Laurence Carvalho, of the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “The public can play a crucial role in providing a rapid, early warning to pet owners about outbreaks of blue-green algae.

“If people report sightings via the Bloomin’ Algae app with a photograph, we can quickly check if it is blue-green algae or something harmless, with correct and incorrect reports plotted on an interactive map in the app.

“App users can also set up notifications for confirmed blooms in their area.”

Credit to:BVA warns owners about blue-green algae(Vet Times)

Vet Times. (2021). BVA warns owners about blue-green algae[online]

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