Blue-Green Algae Is Poisoning Dogs After Swimming in Ponds and Lakes

Erika Holt
August 14, 2019

Their three dogs - Abby, Izzy, and Harpo - had to be put down after swimming in a pond in Wilmington.

The third dog - a therapy dog named Harpo - fell ill and started to show signs of liver failure shortly after.

Martin told the news outlet that her dogs were exposed to the bacteria-ridden algae during their swim. Worse still, there is no specific antidote for blue-green algae poisoning.

"I would give anything to have one more day with them", Martin wrote in an August 9 public Facebook post.

According to the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, algae is more likely to bloom in hot weather and there is no cure if dogs are poisoned by it.

"Some types of blue-green algae produce toxins during blooms and when these blooms decay, the toxins may be released into the water, posing a risk to people and pets", said a news release from the municipality.

"We are gutted", Martin wrote in her post.

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Although blue-green algae has been more of a concern in southern states along the Gulf, harmful algal blooms are being found more and more north of that region, including in Pennsylvania.

"By the end of this year, I plan to contact whoever I need to contact to make sure we have signs up at every body of water like this that says it's toxic", Martin said.

On top of that, it can be hard to detect where algae blooms have formed.

Organizers of the GoFundMe say that they want to get signs placed in front of all contaminated bodies of water to prevent the incident from happening again.

"I think a lot of people don't realize just how toxic it can be", said Natalie Gruchow, a certified veterinary practice manager at Animal Health Clinic. They advise you take your pet immediately to the vet if you think you may have come in contact with blue-green algae.

Algal blooms tend to thrive in high temperatures and after heavy rains carry fertilizer runoff and sewage into waterways. Sometimes the dogs do so by licking their fur after a swim.

"Anytime you see really discolored green water, if you see scums or mats or floating clumps of algae, keep your dogs out, because you can't tell if blue-green algae blooms are making toxins", adds LaLiberte.

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