DEC warns owners to protect pets against harmful algae


FILE – In this Thursday, July 12, 2018 file photo, an algae bloom appears on the Caloosahatchee River at the W.P. Franklin Lock and Dam in Alva, Fla. A study released on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, shows America’s rivers are changing color, mostly because of what people are doing. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

NEW YORK, (WWTI) — The Department of Environmental Conservation is advising pet owners to avoid harmful algal blooms, which can be dangerous to animals.

HABs are likely triggered by a combination of water and environmental conditions that may include excess nutrients, lots of sunlight, low water level, calm water, and warm temperatures. Depending on the weather and the characteristics of the lake, HABs may be present for only a few hours or last several weeks or more.

HABs can release a fast-acting nerve toxin that can be dangerous for pets, especially dogs that swim in blooms. Once an animal swims in water containing the algae, the blooms can stick to the animal’s fur, creating a health risk when they groom themselves.

The DEC encourages owners and their pets to avoid any floating mats, surface scums or heavily discolored water. Water that may have HABs can be shades of green, blue-green, yellow, brown or red.

If you, your family or pet is exposed to a HAB rinse them with clean water to remove the algae and report any symptoms to your local health department.

Signs that your pet has been exposed to a bloom include:

  • Stumbling, seizures, convulsions, or paralysis
  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Disorientation, inactivity or depression
  • Elevated heart rate and difficulty breathing

If you see or suspect any of these symptoms, particularly within 30 minutes to a few hours after exposure to an algal bloom, the DEC advises to seek immediate veterinary care.

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