Dog owners are being urged to be vigilant around Minnesota lakes this summer after a bloom of blue green algae has proved harmful to people and fatal to some dogs after exposure.
Typically occurring in lakes with poor water quality, these blue green algae blooms contain toxins and chemicals which have caused skin irritation and respiratory issues in people, and have been fatal to dogs and other animals after exposure to and ingestion of the water.
Anyone experiencing symptoms following exposure is urged to seek medical attention immediately, and veterinarian advice should be taken if a dog or other animal has ingested water from an affected lake. Adults and children should bathe to remove blue green algae from the skin – symptoms include diarrhea, cramps and nausea, tingling and dizziness.
Pets should be immediately washed and discouraged from licking until a veterinarian has been consulted. Symptoms and more information can be found at the Pet Poison Helpline.
Officials at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency are advising people and their pets to steer clear of waters where blue green algae is suspected or seen – “If in doubt, stay out”.
Blue green algae thrive in warm, dry conditions, where levels of phosphorus and nitrogen are high; nutrients that are deposited in waters naturally when plants and fish die and decompose. They are also higher in recent years as farming, industry and development has spiked in Minnesota and leaves, soil and fertilizer are washed into waterways after rainstorms.