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What you need to know about toxic Blue-green Algae

There haven't been any reports of the toxic algae locally, however that doesn't mean every pond or lake in the area is safe for your pets.

Posted: Aug 16, 2019 7:09 PM

LAFAYETTE Ind. (WLFI)- If you are a dog owner you're probably familiar with toxic Blue-Green Algae and what can happen if your four-legged friend is exposed. There haven't been any reports of the toxic algae locally, however that doesn't mean every pond or lake in the area is safe for your pets.

"Without testing it you just don't know how much is there,” said Stephen Hooser Head of Toxicology, at the Purdue Animal Disease Diagnostics Lab. “You don't know how much the animal would have drunk either, it's all dependent upon how much of the toxin is there."

The Celery Bog in West Lafayette is covered in algae, and while there is no indication that the vegetation is toxic to pets, according to experts it's better to err on the side of caution.

"It's a little difficult because all ponds and all lakes have green algae growing,” added Hooser. “It starts growing more this time of year when it's the late summer."

The DNR only tests bodies of water that are used largely for recreation or if a water source is used for drinking water. Smaller bodies of water, like Celery Bog, aren't tested for the toxic algae regularly due to size.

While there have been no reports of the algae locally, some dog owners say they'd rather be safe than sorry.

"It kind of makes me not want to take him to the local lakes or ponds," said dog owner Kourtney Mullen.

"They don't really swim in random ponds anyway,” added dog owner Alyssa Vergara. “It definitely does make me more cautious because I don't know what it looks like."

If your dog is exposed to the toxins, they act fast and the side effects are noticeable.

"The dog will start vomiting and they will usually get very weak and depressed,” stated Hooser. “That's because of the damage that is occurring to their liver within those first few hours."

It's hard to know if the toxin levels are high without testing, but the look of the algae can be a good indicator of whether or not it's safe.

"It looks like ribbons of green in the water,” said Hooser. “Sometimes it's thick and looks like paint growing on the surface of the water, that's Blue-Green Algae."

There is no antidote for the toxins if they are ingested, the only thing a vet can do is treat the symptoms. It's important to point out that the toxic algae are also dangerous for humans.

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