An increase in reports of toxic blue green algae in several locations across the UK this summer has prompted the British Veterinary Association to urge pet owners to take extra precautions while walking their dogs near affected water bodies.
Blue green algae blooms may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water and can contain toxins that can be harmful for animals if ingested, even in small quantities. Dogs can swallow this algae 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 includevomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces. If left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be rapidly fatal.
The presence of blue green algae has been confirmed in water bodies in Southampton and Fleet in Hampshire, Edinburgh and Elgin in Scotland, Cornwall, Leicestershire, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, among other locations.