Don't let blue-green algae pose a threat to your pet

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OMAHA, Neb. -- If your dog’s not allowed to use the Internet, you need to do a little research to make sure your pet is safe by the water.

Blue-green algae can make an appearance at this time of year and that can pose a threat.

Pet owners have been talking about the recent deaths of three dogs who swam in a North Carolina pond contaminated with blue-green algae. Events like these do happen at this time of year, since conditions are right for the growth of cyanobacteria.

In Nebraska, Game and Parks officials do test but they don't control all the ponds and lakes so it's a good idea to know what to look for:

  • Algae is most likely to occur in bodies of fresh water when the weather has been warm (over 75 degrees f) and sunny
  • Water containing toxic algal blooms will look like pea-green, bluish green, or reddish brown paint or slime on the surface
  • The water may have a bad odor
  • If breezy, the film will often concentrate along the shoreline, or in bays where animals may drink or swim

Don't panic. But know that in Nebraska, state officials have issued alerts for Rockford Lake in Gage County, Wagon Train Lake in Lancaster County and Harlan County Reservoir. The beaches have placards and are closed to swimming. So take heed if you see signs that it’s not safe for you. Don't let your pets swim either.

If your pet swims in a lake and then has symptoms like vomiting; diarrhea; blood in stool or black, tarry stool; weakness, pale mucous membranes; jaundice; seizures; disorientation; coma and shock or excessive salivating; neurological symptoms like muscle tremors; paralysis and difficulty breathing, see your vet immediately if you suspect algae poisoning.

Again we do get algae in Nebraska so do your homework, Google "algae in Nebraska lakes" and you'll find several references and tables to guide you so you know what water is safe for your pet to enter.

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