Pond Algae can be Toxic to Pets
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Oh, my aching muscles...

Avoid summertime hazards to companion animals

By Mary Gutierrez

There are many pet hazards unique to summertime. We often hear warnings not to leave dogs in the car and reminders to offer pets plenty of fresh water—but algae?

Every summer a news story or e-mail circulates, relating how a dog was poisoned by blue green algae. Technically, these organisms are cyanobacteria—the toxic ones are called cyanoHABs (Harmful Algal Blooms). These organisms “bloom” when sunlight and warmth increase in summer.

CyanoHABs can cloud water so densely that it looks like pea soup and in heavy infestations may congeal into mats near the shoreline. In many cases, the body of water is still and the water is warm. Blue green algae may be blue-green, olive green, brown—or even have a red or purple hue.

CyanoHABs can be present in wild bodies of water, but are also prevalent in urban lakes and even backyard ponds. To be safe, don’t allow your dog to drink or swim in stagnant water. While some animals who swim may not necessarily drink a lot of water, grooming their coat after swimming can be hazardous.

Not all types of green water are toxic. But since it’s impossible for most of us to know which ones are dangerous and which aren’t, it’s best to steer clear. Besides, there are other infectious agents, such as Giardia, in pond water.

Blue green algae also kills birds, wildlife, and livestock who live in or near the body of water. And it can cause a skin rash on people who have been in the water. For more information, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site:

Salmon Poisoning

Not to totally ruin your waterside fun, but those of us living in the Pacific Northwest need to know that ingesting raw salmon can make your dog sick. Wild salmon feed on snails that carry a fluke; these flukes can be infected with a bacteria that is toxic to dogs.

Your best bet is to keep Rover away from raw salmon in the trash can or if you go fishing. If you go salmon fishing or will be near salmon spawning grounds where fish wash up on the shore, it’s a good idea to leave your dog at home.

Enjoy Your Summer!

Oh yeah, and don’t leave your dog in the car—even for a few minutes—when the sun is shining and air temperatures are above 60 F.

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