Blue-Green Algae and Dogs: Symptoms and Prevention


Algae naturally occur in inland waters such as rivers, streams and lakes and during long periods of warm weather, it can multiply and form blooms.

Blue-green algae or cyanobacteria – a type of blooming algae – can produce toxins harmful to both humans and animals.

These toxins can be dangerous for animals if ingested, even in small quantities.

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How Do Dogs Ingest Blue-Green Algae?

Dogs can swallow algae by drinking water from an affected lake, river or pond or when licking their fur after going for a swim.

Can Humans Be Harmed by Blue-Green Algae?

When high concentrations of these cyanobacteria toxins are consumed, they can poison humans as well.

What Causes Blue-Green Algae?

  • Nutrients such as phosphorus and nitrogen
  • Stable, slow-moving, or stagnant water
  • Hot temperatures
  • Intermittent exposure to high light intensity

Tips to Avoid Blue-Green Algae Poisoning:

  • Keep your dog leashed around bodies of water.
  • Don’t let your dog drink out of ponds and lakes
  • Harmful algae blooms can be blue, vibrant green, brown or red, and are sometimes mistaken for paint floating on the water.
  • Toxic algae often stink, yet animals seem attracted to the smell and taste of them, according to the EPA.
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What To Do if a Dog Has Been Exposed to Blue-Green Algae?

Rinse the dog off immediately with clean water if he comes in contact with blue-green algae. Call the veterinarian immediately.

Signs/Symptoms Your Dog May Have Ingested Blue-Green Algae:

Symptoms manifest anywhere from 15 minutes to several days after exposure and it may include:

  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Neurologic signs such as:
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Collapse/unconsciousness
  • Seizures
  • Breathing difficulties

If any of these signs occur, contact your vet immediately. If caught early enough, your vet may be able to flush out the toxins before your dog becomes completely affected.

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