Dog walkers are being urged to take extra precautions when walking their pets near water after a spike in reports of toxic blue green algae across the UK this summer.
Blue green algae or cyanobacteria is a group of bacteria that can contain toxins that can be harmful and even fatal to pets, livestock and birds if ingested even in small quantities.
Blue green algae blooms may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water. Dogs can swallow it by drinking water from an affected lake, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim.
Symptoms of exposure can appear within a few minutes or hours, depending on the type of toxin ingested, and commonly include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces. If left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be rapidly fatal.
The British Veterinary Association said there was no known antidote for the toxins, so prompt veterinary treatment was the only way to tackle their effects and ensure a good chance of recovery.