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September 2019

Dearest Members,

I guess it is official - after this weekend, Summer is over. Not sure about all of you, but I’m looking forward to some fall weather and of course, our Agility trial later this month and our specialty in October.

Every month as I sit at my computer to write this monthly report, I am always looking for topics. If any of you have ideas as to what you would like to see in the President’s Report, please shoot me an email; I’ll see what I can do to accommodate your ideas. Earlier this month, two members, Linda Blackman and Jeanette Holmes sent me a chart that listing the lakes and waterways in California that were known to have a problem with blue-green algae. Blue-green algae is very toxic to dogs and you should probably familiarize yourself with it. I did a bit of research, which I will share with you. If we can save just one dog from this terrible toxin, then it is worth it. Enjoy!

Blue-green algae and its dangers to dogs

  • Blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs. Call your vet immediately if you suspect poisoning.
  • Don’t let your dog drink from or swim in water containing blue-green algae.
  • Blue-green algae is most common during the hotter, drier summer months when there is less rain

What is blue-green algae and what does it look like?

Blue-green algae is a term used to describe a group of bacteria, called cyanobacteria. They are not actually algae, but the organism got this name because they often give the appearance of algae when they clump together in bodies of water. The bacteria cannot be seen with the naked eye unless they clump together. When this happens, blue-green algae can look like green flakes, greenish bundles or brown dots in a pond, lake or stream. When the algae blooms, it can give the look like a blue-green scum has appeared on the surface of the water. It sometimes looks a bit like pea soup. Blooms of the organism often build up and around the edges of ponds and lakes, which may look like foam. It is most common in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall, but can also occur at other times of the year. You may notice dead fish in ponds or lakes with a high concentration of the toxic bacteria. /don’t let your dog drink from water containing dead animals. The algae may be present in a harmful form even if you cannot see it, so take note of any warning signs in the area.

Why is blue-green algae dangerous to dogs?

Blooms of the blue-green algae can produce harmful toxins which stop a dog’s liver from functioning properly. However, not all types of blue-green algae are dangerous. Sadly, exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal, and can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water. Some types of blue-algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water. Dogs who have been swimming in water can get the algae caught in their fur, and can ingest it while cleaning themselves later on. Concentrations of the algae vary throughout the year and may not always be harmful – but you can’t tell simply by looking at them whether or not they are dangerous, so it is best not to run the risk of allowing your dog to come in contact with water where the algae may be present.

What are the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning?

If your dog shows any of the following signs after drinking from, or swimming or paddling in water, contact your vet immediately and tell them you are concerned about bluegreen algae.

  • Vomiting, being sick
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Weakness, collapse or unconsciousness
  • Disorientation or confusion
  • Drooling
  • Breathing difficulties

There is no antidote for the toxins produced by the bacteria, but if caught early enough, your vet will likely try to make your dog sick and attempt to flush the toxins from the body before they take hold. Sadly, bluegreen algae poisoning often eventually causes fatal liver failure. These symptoms are commonly seen with other illnesses too, which are often less serious, but you should always call your vet if you are worried your pet is sick.

It is important to also note that blue-green algae is also toxic to cats, and a health risk to humans as well. In humans, blue-green algae can cause skin rashes, sickness, stomach pains, fever and headaches. There have been some reports of more serious illnesses including liver and brain damage. Children are at a greater risk than adults. Do not drink from or enter water that may contain blue-green algae.*

Reprinted from:

A short video can also be found:

Thank you to Jeanette Holmes and Linda Blackman for the list of California lakes known to contain blue-green algae following:

Sandy Barrett

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can be contacted through the President by telephone or email.
Sandy Barrett
916-718-5559 (cell)