Blue-Green Algae Poisoning: What Exactly Is It?

Blue-Green Algae Poisoning

Blue-Green Algae Poisoning: What Exactly is It


Even though many dog owners are not aware of the dangers that blue-green algae pose, the canine population is increasingly threatened by the algae.

Most dogs will be exposed when walking around in public areas such as parks and fields, yet, some dog owners will have blue-green algae growing in their backyards without even being aware of it.

The possible repercussions of exposure to blue-green algae can be disastrous; every year, tales of animals passing away due to this toxin are documented.

Due to the limited availability of therapeutic options, the most effective method for reducing the risk is simply avoiding exposure at all costs.

It is very important that all dog owners educate themselves on what blue-green algae are and become aware of the damage this seemingly harmless substance can pose to our much-loved pets.

This is because all dog owners must educate themselves on what blue-green algae is all about.

What Exactly Is Blue-Green Algae?

Although one could think that blue-green algae are a type of algae, it is a cyanobacterium, a variety of bacteria that grows on the surface of still water and looks like algae. Cyanobacteria are microscopic bacteria that can develop in stagnant water.

These cyanobacteria are extremely poisonous, and as a result, they present a substantial risk to a wide variety of animals, including domesticated cats and dogs, as well as wild animals.

Even we humans are susceptible to their effects if we swim in contaminated water or drink water that has been infected.

They can produce a wide variety of poisons, some of which are powerful anatoxins. It is crucial to be aware of the appearance of the chemical to successfully avoid coming into contact with it.

When cyanobacteria are present in water, there will frequently be a layer of slime on the surface of the water, and this slime will be a pale green color.  The distinctive color that is created is sometimes referred to as “pea green” by some people.

Since it is hard to determine which algal blooms will create harmful toxins and since it is desirable to avoid all algae growth, it is prudent to steer clear of any instances of algal change.

Where Can One Typically Discover It?

Blue-green algae can be found in many different bodies of water, although it is most commonly found floating on the surface of ponds, lakes, and streams.

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Unfortunately, the vegetation has the propensity to gather along the edge of the water, making it easier for animals to get to it when it’s dried.

In addition, we frequently find blue-green algae in our backyard gardens, particularly in decorative garden fountains and even in small bird baths. This is a regular occurrence.

The most abundant blooms are found in water rich in nutrients, and more specifically, in water bordered by fields that have been fertilized. This is because fertilizer can flow into the water and, in a sense, “fuel” the growth of the toxins.

Never put your faith in water that has been sitting around for a while, and any body of water with a film or scum floating on the surface should never be used by an animal for drinking or bathing purposes.

When In The Year Does It Usually Occur?

As a result of the algae’s preference for warmer temperatures, summer, and early fall are when we see the maximum growth.

At specific times of the year, several public health departments will place signs in the vicinity of impacted water to alert the general public of the associated risk.

When the weather is clear, property owners should be on the lookout for these warning indicators.

Is It Dangerous To Dogs?

There is no question that blue-green algae is extremely hazardous to dogs. This is especially true for canines that spend a significant amount of time outside and in water, such as hunting dogs, which are at an elevated risk of being exposed to the toxin.

Some people may be able to survive the exposure if they are fortunate and get treatment right away, but the majority of people will pass away within a few short hours.

Drinking the water or even just swimming in it could put animals in jeopardy of contracting a disease.

Indications & Manifestations of Blue-Green Algae Poisoning

The symptoms brought on by the blue-green algae will be different depending on the sort of toxin that has been created. Anatoxins and microcystins are the two key toxins that we need to be aware of at this time.


Microcystins typically target the liver, a vital organ for maintaining life, since it removes toxins from the body and plays a significant part in the metabolic process.

Initially, patients may experience fatigue, vomiting, decreased appetite, and diarrhea. Jaundice can develop in animals in hours (their skin will take on a yellow appearance).

If blood tests were performed, the results would demonstrate an increase in the levels of liver enzymes and a decrease in the ranks of molecules that the liver would typically make, such as proteins.

Because of this, the animal’s capacity to coagulate its blood will be impaired, and it may start bleeding. The infected animals will experience a steady decline in their health over the next 24 to 48 hours, when they may eventually enter a coma and expire.


Toxins come in various potencies and dangers, but anatoxins are among the most potent and hazardous. They can bring on severe symptoms in a matter of minutes.

Because the neurological system is being attacked, the displayed signals might be extremely dramatic for owners to see.

Dogs may drool and shake when first exposed to the toxin; later on, they may have trouble walking and breathing, and they may even go on to experience paralysis and seizures.

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The ultimate effects typically include slipping into a coma, followed by an abrupt death. Unfortunately, animals exposed to anatoxin pass away very quickly, sometimes within as little as 30 minutes.

What Kind of Treatment Can Be Offered?

Unfortunately, there is only minimal treatment available for exposure to blue-green algae, and there is no known cure or antidote.

The most important thing for owners to do is figure out where their pets may have been exposed to the disease and take them to the nearest veterinarian clinic as soon as they can.

On the weekends, this typically requires going to an emergency clinic that is open “out of hours.” Suppose animals are brought to the veterinarian before the development of symptoms (which is difficult to accomplish due to the rapid-acting nature of the toxins).

In that case, an effort will be made to purge the animal of whatever it has consumed. However, this is rarely successful due to the nature of the toxins.

Inducing vomiting in the animal and feeding it activated charcoal as a meal are also potential methods for accomplishing this goal. The treatment consists of providing the animal with comfort and working on controlling the symptoms.

This may include vigorous fluid therapy, support for the liver, medicine to prevent nausea and vomiting, medication to prevent seizures, and the administration of oxygen. You may need intensive nursing care for a few days.

What is the Outcome of Blue-Green Algae Poisoning?

Those exposed to blue-green algae have a terrible prognosis, and the mortality rate remains high, even in those who are treated swiftly.

This is the case even though the prediction does not look good. Even relatively healthy young animals that have not been subjected to a significant dose of the toxin are in danger of passing away.

Is This A Frequent Issue Encountered In Veterinary Clinics?

Toxins produced by blue-green algae can be found worldwide, but some regions are more likely to be harmed than others. In general, areas with temperate climates are the most negatively impacted.

The most impressive flowering results are often seen in more rural locations that frequently use fertilizer. Fortunately, blue-green algae toxicity is not particularly common compared to other types of toxicity.

This may be due to the diligent efforts of the local authorities, who work hard to publicize the toxin’s risk and discourage owners from allowing their animals to be near it through posters and public announcements.

Blue-green algae toxicity is not particularly common compared to other types of toxicities. Education is essential because the number of cases that need to be handled by veterinarians will decrease in proportion to the increase in public awareness of the dangers.

Are Cats at Risk?

To our great relief, it is extremely unusual for cats to be exposed to the poisons produced by blue-green algae, and it is not usually observed in practice.

It is believed that this is due to a combination of the cat’s innate unwillingness to consume anything other than the purest water and their overall aversion to swimming in open water environments.

What Preventive Measures Exist to Decrease Exposure to Blue-Green Algae?

In light of the dismal outlook, the disease can be avoided, which is by far the most effective method of treatment.

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People need to prohibit access to locations where algae are growing, which may entail fencing off bodies of water and turning upside down any water bowls or fountains that aren’t being used to prevent rain from entering them.

This is necessary so that people can prevent the spread of the algae.

In order to prevent their dogs from drinking from questionable water sources, owners should take their own bottled water with them when they go for walks and make it available to their dogs regularly.

Dogs should only be allowed to swim in bodies of water that do not contain algae, and it is best practice to wash their coats off after swimming whenever possible.

Ingesting even a small amount of the toxin can be fatal for a dog, so it is important that dogs only swim in waters that do not contain any algae.

How to Determine The Safty Of Water For Your Dog

The critical takeaway is that pet parents should thoroughly inspect any body of water before letting their dog approach it. This is especially the case when the temperature is higher.

Avoid drinking any water that has a film or “scum” developing on the surface of it.

Not all blooms of algae will indeed create toxins, but without conducting testing in a laboratory, it is hard to tell which blooms pose a concern and which do not.

In addition to performing a visual inspection of the water, owners need to be on the lookout for any signs or banners that the local councils have hung to warn of potential dangers.

If you have any doubts as to the safety of the water, you should drink only bottled water and have a kiddie pool in your backyard when you need to cool off.

Questions People Also Ask: (FAQs)


1. What is blue-green algae?

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms found naturally in fresh and salt water. They use sunlight to make their food, much like plants. Under certain conditions, they can multiply rapidly, creating blooms that can be harmful to people and animals.


2. What is blue-green algae poisoning?

Blue-green algae poisoning occurs when someone or a pet ingests water containing toxic blue-green algae. Not all blue-green algae produce toxins, but certain types can release toxins that are harmful and even fatal when ingested.


3. What are the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning in humans?

In humans, symptoms can range from mild to severe and can include skin irritation, eye irritation, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, sore throat, and headache. More severe cases can lead to liver damage, nerve damage, and potentially death.


4. What are the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning in dogs?

In dogs, symptoms can appear within minutes or hours, depending on the amount ingested. They can include vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficulty breathing, seizures, and unresponsiveness. Blue-green algae poisoning can be fatal in dogs if not treated immediately.


5. What should I do if I suspect blue-green algae poisoning?

If you or your pet has been exposed to blue-green algae and are showing symptoms of poisoning, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical or veterinary help.


6. How can blue-green algae poisoning be prevented?

The best way to prevent blue-green algae poisoning is to avoid contact with water bodies known to have blue-green algae blooms. Always be cautious around water that appears discolored or has a visible scum layer on the surface. For pets, keep them on a leash around affected water bodies to prevent them from drinking the water or swimming in it.


7. Can blue-green algae be removed from a water body?

While it’s challenging to remove blue-green algae once they’ve bloomed, there are ways to manage and control their growth, including reducing nutrient runoff into water bodies, using algaecides, or employing biological controls. However, these methods require careful management to avoid causing further ecological harm.

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