Danger lurking in park water that can take ’15 minutes’ to harm your dog

Dog owners are being warned to be cautious while walking their pets around parks because of the presence of dangerous blue-green algae in the water.

This mysterious blue-green algae is often found in non-flowing fresh water like lakes and ponds due to the presence of bacteria. It is common during the summer when there is less rain and these algae can be very dangerous for dogs.

Liverpool City Council warned its resident through a tweet about the dangers of this algae, which is now found in the lakes of popular parks – Stanley Park and Sefton Park.

The tweet recommended that dogs should be kept on a lead until the restrictions are lifted. This would require two negative test results for the algae by the Environment Agency.

Liverpool based dog first aider, Yvonne Jones, explained to TeamDogs the potential dangers if your dog were to come into contact with algae.

She explained: "Not all blue-green algae species release dangerous toxins into the water but unfortunately there is no real way to know if algae is toxic just by looking at it. Some types of blue-green algae are extremely toxic and can be deadly when consumed in high concentration.

"Unfortunately, dogs are more vulnerable to blue-green algae poisoning because of their likelihood to play in the water and as such more likely to ingest the toxins. It is so dangerous to our dogs because of the speed at which it affects them and also because of the damage it causes to the liver. It can take as little as 15 minutes to cause your dog serious harm."

The 46-year-old shared some of her tips to avoid algae poisoning.

  • Watch out for warning signs put up by the council around the areas where you walk your dog.
  • Always keep your dog on lead around bodies of water, especially if the water appears dirty, foamy or has thin films on the surface of the water.
  • Don’t let your dog drink out of ponds and lakes.

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She added: "You should be aware that harmful algae blooms, which can be blue, vibrant green, brown or red, are sometimes mistaken for paint floating on the water. Also be aware the toxins aren’t always visible, but you may spot dead fish or other wildlife in the water.

"You may be able to identify toxic algae by its smell as sometimes it has a very distinctive smell which can be downright nauseating, yet dogs may still be attracted to the smell and taste of them."

If you think your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae, you should rinse your dog off immediately with clean water and call the vet straight away.

Look out for signs and symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting, drooling and neurologic signs like weakness, disorientation/confusion, collapse/unconsciousness, seizures and breathing difficulties

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Blue green algae can be caused by the following or sometimes a combination of all four nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen, stable, slow-moving, or stagnant water, hot temperature and/or intermittent exposure to high light intensity.

If you spot blue-green algae but there are no signs up, it should be reported immediately.

You can contact the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60 who will then be able to test the water and put warning signs up to warn other people if blue-green algae is found.

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