• Blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs. Call your vet immediately if you suspect poisoning.
  • Don’t let your dog drink from or swim in water containing blue-green algae 
  • Blue-green algae is most common during the hotter, drier summer months when there is less rain, so this season!

What is blue-green algae and what does it look like?

Blue-green algae is a term used to describe a group of bacteria, called cyanobacteria. 

They are not actually algae, but the organisms got this name because they often give the appearance of algae when they clump together in bodies of water. It has been described as having the appearance of pea soup.

Blue-green algae may not always be harmful but you can’t tell simply by looking, so it’s best not to let your dog near the water

Blooms of the organisms often build up around the edges of ponds and lakes, which may look like foam.

It is most common in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall, but can also occur at other times of the year.

You may notice dead fish in ponds or lakes with a high concentration of the toxic bacteria. Don’t let your dog drink from water containing dead animals.

The algae may be present in a harmful form even if you cannot see it, so take note of any warning signs in the area.

Blooms of blue-green algae can produce harmful toxins which stop a dog’s liver from functioning properly and can often be fatal. It can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water. Some types of blue-green algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water.

What are the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning?

If your dog shows any of the following signs after drinking from, or swimming or paddling in water, contact your vet immediately and tell them you are concerned about blue-green algae:

  • Vomiting/being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures/fitting
  • Weakness/collapse/unconsciousness
  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Drooling
  • Breathing difficulties

There is no antidote for the toxins produced by the bacteria, but if caught early enough, your vet will likely try to make your dog sick and attempt to flush the toxins from the body before they take hold.

Sadly, blue-green algae poisoning often eventually causes fatal liver failure.

Can my cat be affected by blue-green algae?

Yes, blue-green algae is toxic to cats. Contact us immediately if your cat drinks from water contaminated with blue-green algae.