Keep your dog away from toxic blue-green algae, experts recommend

Hampden County

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Like many pet owners, Sarah Nacewicz never really knew how dangerous blue-green algae can be to her dog, Stella. Her shepherd-mix occasionally goes swimming too. 

“She’ll do a little circle because she’s on a leash,” said Nacewicz of Springfield. “Then she’ll come back and shake all over us – then go back to do it again.” 

You’ll often find blue-green algae blooms in warm and stagnant or slow-moving water. That’s why it can grow so fast in the summer and fall. Where you see foam, scum, or mats of algae – it’s best to not swim there. 

And if you wouldn’t swim there, veterinarian Bob Shurtleff of the Eastfield Hospital for Animals in Wilbraham said it’s best not to allow your pets to swim there either. 

“They haven’t really been able to identify what the specific toxics are yet, but it’s been known to happen on a larger scale with cattle,” Shurtleff told 22News. 

In North Carolina, an extreme case occurred. A couple is trying to educate fellow dog lovers about the danger of toxic algae after all three of their dogs died within hours of coming in contact with blue-green algae. Their dogs had spent the afternoon swimming in a nearby pond. 

“When you get them out wash them off,” said Shurtleff. “Don’t let them lick themselves. Then just watch for any side effects.” 

In the North Carolina case, those side effects were seizers. Dr. Shurtleff said if that happens, bring your dog to the vet immediately. Sarah Nacewicz said she’ll be spot-checking the water more closely from now on. 

Blue-green algae has been detected in all 50 states. 

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