Protect Pets From Harmful Algae

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Summertime means more time outside, and you may be hitting the beach, lake, or river with your dog. Playtime in the water can be a great way to keep cool with your canine companion, but you should know that not all water is safe for dogs.

If you’re visiting the ocean, a lake, river, or other body of water, look out for harmful blooms of algae and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae). These blooms can sometimes cause harm to people and animals, including pets and livestock.

Know how to recognize algal blooms.

Dog looking into swamp

Blooms can look like foam, scum, mats, or paint on the surface of the water. A bloom can change the color of the water to green, blue, brown, red, or another color. People and animals can get sick if they:

  • Swim, wade, or play in or near contaminated water;
  • Eat contaminated fish or shellfish; or
  • Use contaminated drinking water.

If you see signs of a bloom, keep pets out of the water.

Cyanobacteria (Blue-Green Algae)

You cannot tell if a bloom is harmful by looking at it, so it is best to use caution and stay away. Do not fish, swim, boat, or play water sports in areas where there is possible harmful algae or cyanobacteria.

Do not go into or play in water that:

  • Smells bad
  • Looks discolored
  • Has foam, scum, algal mats, or paint-like streaks on the surface
  • Has dead fish or other animals washed up on its shore or beach

Protect pets and livestock.

Keep animals away from water with possible harmful algae or cyanobacteria. Pets and livestock can get sick and even die if they are exposed. If you are in a public setting, like a park or beach, look for signs about water quality that might be posted.

If you think there is an algal bloom, do not let animals:

  • Get in the water
  • Drink the water
  • Lick or eat mats of cyanobacteria or algae
  • Eat or graze near the water
  • Eat dead fish or other animals on the shore
  • Go on the beach or shoreline