Dogs at Risk: This Fatal Threat Is Lurking in The Water.

In a heart-wrenching incident that serves as a somber reminder of the dangers lurking in our natural surroundings, a 2-year-old flat-coated retriever named Cove has tragically lost its life after ingesting toxic algae during a leisurely lake walk, along. The incident has shed light on the perilous threat posed by blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, which can unleash powerful toxins capable of harming both humans and animals.

Blue Green Algae and dogs

Jan Eggington, Cove’s owner, recounted the heartbreaking turn of events. As they strolled near the lake Cove stopped near a cluster of deceased fish found on the lakeside. Shockingly, a mere 45 minutes after the encounter, Cove succumbed to the deadly effects of the toxic algae.

Blue Green Algae Is Worldwide

Blue-green algae can be found worldwide and naturally occur in freshwater bodies such as lakes, ponds, canals, rivers, and reservoirs. These algae can thrive in both natural and man-made water sources, including recreational areas. They are more prevalent during warmer months when sunlight is abundant, although heavy rainfall can also trigger their occurrence.

Cove, the dog that died, was walking in Worcestershire, U.K but over 2,300 lakes and rivers across the contiguous U.S. are hosts to blue-green algae blooms and is a frequent occurrence in the Great Lakes, particularly in Lake Erie, Green Bay, and Saginaw Bay.

Blue Green Algae and dogs

The noxious algal blooms can rapidly proliferate, contaminating vast bodies of water. The spokesperson highlighted their appearance, noting that they can manifest as green or turquoise wispy paint, green scum, clumps of green particles, and sometimes even red, brown, or black. Furthermore, the water may emit a musty, earthy, or grassy odor, with foam often visible along the shoreline.

It is important to note that the danger lies not only in swimming in contaminated water but also in proximity to the affected area. In the case of Cove, the autopsy conducted by Dr. Andrew Turner from the Center for Environment, Fisheries, and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS) confirmed exposure to anatoxins commonly found in blue-green algae blooms. Surprisingly, Cove had not entered the water but had likely ingested the toxins by consuming the contaminated fish found on the lakeside.

Blue Green Algae and dogs

“My husband first realized all was not well when Cove started staggering as he walked back from the lake, and by the time I’d caught up with them, he was already paralyzed. The frightening aspect to me is that something so dangerous, that was not even in the water, can kill your dog in 45 minutes. We are so careful with our dogs, we think about them in everything we do; we know all of the poisonous foods and plants and were very aware of blue-green algae, but one lick of the fish was enough.”

Jan Eggington expressed her distress, sharing her account of the tragic incident

Eggington hopes that sharing Cove’s story will raise awareness of the hazards posed not only within bodies of water but also in their vicinity, potentially saving lives in the process. This tragic incident marks the first confirmed death caused by blue-green algae in the U.K.

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How To Avoid Blue Green Algae

Blue Green Algae and dogs
Source: Adobe Stock

Prompted by this distressing event, the Kennel Club has issued a cautionary advisory to pet owners, outlining measures to ensure their beloved companions’ safety. “Owners can protect their pets by keeping their dogs away from bodies of water, such as lakes, ponds, and rivers suspected of blue-green algae contamination. This includes restraining them from swimming in or drinking from the water, as well as maintaining a safe distance from the banks and surrounding areas,” advised the spokesperson. They further emphasized the importance of heeding any signage indicating the presence of blue-green algae, although caution should be exercised as such warnings may not always be in place.

Do THIS If Your Dog Comes Into Contact With Blue-Green Algae

Blue Green Algae and dogs

If there is a suspicion that a dog has come into contact with blue-green algae, immediate veterinary assistance should be sought. The spokesperson recommended contacting the vet in advance to inform them of the situation, as blue-green algae poisoning often necessitates swift treatment.

If your dog comes in contact with blue-green algae, you should rinse your dog off immediately with clean water. There is no specific antidote for blue-green algae poisoning in dogs, so treatment aims to remove the toxin from the body and support the affected organs. You should call your veterinarian immediately for further instructions.

What A Vet Would Do

Vet doing treatment on a dog - Blue Green Algae and dogs

The vet may provide treatment to remove the toxin from the body and support the affected organs. This may include washing the dog with soap and water, inducing vomiting, giving activated charcoal, oxygen, intravenous fluids, plasma, and medications to prevent shock, seizures, muscle spasms, and liver failure. Treatment should be sought immediately after exposure.

Humans Are Not Immune

Humans, too, should exercise caution when in proximity to bodies of water exhibiting extensive algal blooms. “Potential effects of human contact with the substance include skin rashes, eye irritations, vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and pain in muscles and joints,” cautioned the Kennel Club spokesperson.

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In order to safeguard oneself and family members, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency offers a simple yet crucial piece of advice: “When in doubt, best keep out!” This serves as a reminder that vigilance and caution are paramount when enjoying the natural wonders that surround us, ensuring the well-being and safety of both our cherished pets and ourselves.


What are blue-green algae blooms?

Blue-green algae blooms are rapid and excessive growths of cyanobacteria in bodies of water, resulting in the formation of dense, visible clusters or surface scums.

Are blue-green algae blooms harmful to dogs?

Yes, blue-green algae blooms can be extremely harmful to dogs. They produce toxins that can cause severe illness or even be fatal if ingested by dogs.

How can dogs come into contact with blue-green algae blooms?

Dogs can come into contact with blue-green algae blooms by swimming in or drinking water contaminated with these toxic algae. They can also be exposed if they consume fish or other aquatic organisms that have been affected by the blooms.

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

Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning in dogs can include vomiting, diarrhea, excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, seizures, weakness, disorientation, and even death. Immediate veterinary care is crucial if you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae.

Are all blue-green algae blooms toxic to dogs?

Not all blue-green algae blooms are toxic, but it is impossible to determine toxicity based on visual appearance alone. It is best to assume that all blue-green algae blooms are potentially toxic and keep your dog away from them.

How can I protect my dog from blue-green algae blooms?

To protect your dog from blue-green algae blooms, avoid letting them swim or drink from bodies of water that have visible signs of algal blooms. Be cautious even if the water looks clear, as toxins may still be present. Pay attention to warning signs or advisories issued by local authorities.

What should I do if I suspect my dog has been exposed to blue-green algae?

If you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae, it is essential to seek immediate veterinary care. Contact your vet and describe the situation, providing details of the potential exposure. Prompt treatment can greatly increase the chances of a positive outcome.

Can humans be affected by blue-green algae blooms too?

Yes, humans can be affected by blue-green algae blooms. Contact with or ingestion of contaminated water can cause skin irritation, eye irritation, respiratory issues, gastrointestinal problems, and allergic reactions. It is important for both humans and dogs to avoid contact with these blooms.

How can I stay informed about blue-green algae bloom warnings?

Stay informed about blue-green algae bloom warnings by checking with local authorities, environmental agencies, or park management for updates. They may provide advisories or guidelines regarding affected water bodies. Monitoring local news or official websites can also provide important information about potential risks in your area.

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