Veterinarians warn pet owners of deadly blue-green algae

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala (WIAT) — Veterinarians are urging pet owners to be cautious when letting their pets swim in natural waterways. 

This comes after three dogs in North Carolina died after being exposed to blue-green algae in a pond. Doctor Alex Winke with Valleydale Animal Clinic says it is best to avoid stagnant water where the blue-green algae bloom.

“Blue-green algae is actually Cyanobacteria which is the toxic part that again brings a bacteria that is very small. You can’t see it.,” said Winke. “So obviously if there’s stagnant water, and you’re seeing algae that are present, then you want to avoid those water sources.”

Winke says the blue-green algae can be harmful to people and deadly for pets. You should monitor your pet’s behavior if they recently swam or ingested water from any lake, stream, or pond.

“In these cases, depending on what toxin is released in the pet after they’ve ingested or aspirated, you know that potential bacteria which you may not see, the pet can become sick very quickly,” said Winke. “And it can again imitate other issues like just an upset tummy that then turns into a much sicker pet quicker than you would think just by getting into something they shouldn’t have.” 

Winke says pet owners should seek a veterinarian’s help if they notice any signs that their animal is not feeling well.

“Seek veterinary attention and have someone look at your pet,” said Winke. “Have someone examine your pet as a professional that can then make the best recommendations.” 

Winke says there is no cure and veterinarians can only treat symptoms. Fortunately, cases like this are rare. Seeking help immediately after noticing signs of illness in your pet could save their lives.

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