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Blue-Green Algae Warning in Lakes

Blue-green algae header
Dog owners who walk their canine companions near lakes are being urged to keep their four legged friends on a lead due to increased levels of blue-green algae in the water.

Last month, three dogs sadly died after drinking affected water from Brookland’s Lake in Dartford, and a number of others required extensive veterinary treatment.

The lake was recently closed off for testing but it has since reopened. Warnings have been placed around the lake and they will remain there until the algae levels drop back down to a safe level; the Environment Agency will continue to take regular water samples for testing.   

What are blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae (also known as cyanobacteria) are algal blooms that contain toxins or other poisonous chemicals which can pose harmful health risks to both animals and humans.

They are microscopic plants that are a natural part of the aquatic environment but they are more prominent during warm weather in water that is alkaline and rich in nutrients. It is very common to see excessive algae growth in mid to late summer.

Unfortunately, it is impossible to visually determine whether an algae bloom is toxic but they occur naturally and clear up on their own.

What are the symptoms?

If humans come into contact with blue-green algae, it can cause skin and eye irritation and if ingested, it can make them feel very unwell.

Blue-green algae are incredibly harmful for animals and can sadly cause death. Your pet may display signs such as diarrhoea, vomiting or seizures, but if you are worried, we strongly recommend you to contact your vet right away.

An emergency could occur at any time, and we know what a worry it is when your pet requires immediate treatment. So to give you peace of mind, we offer a unique, complete 24-hour service. Our 24-hour centres are open all day, every day (including Bank Holidays) and they always have a dedicated night vet and nurse on site, plus a back-up on-call team to deal with complicated procedures.

When in doubt, keep out!

Not all blue-green algae blooms are toxic, but it’s impossible to tell just by looking at them. The best course of action is to assume they are toxic, and avoid any contact with the water. Ensure children are kept away from the lake, and keep your pet on a lead to ensure they do not swim in, or drink, the water.

Don’t ignore it, report it!

To report an environmental incident, please call the Environment Agency Incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.

If you have been affected by blue-green algae, please seek medical attention from your doctor. If you suspect your pet may have been affected, contact your local Medivet practice immediately.

Posted June 13, 2016 by Cara Zaleski in Pet Care Advice

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