The state is asking us to spread attention to the increased risk for algae blooms in California. Since a lot of you are camping and getting some fresh air, I thought now would be a good time to review this. Blue-green algae can cause illness particularly in dogs and people. Toxic blooms occur throughout California and are increasing in numbers, frequency, and severity. Dog deaths have been linked to blue-green algal toxins.
Animals can be exposed by contact with infected water (lakes, rivers, ponds, standing water in pools etc). Because animals are attracted to the algae, they drink and eat the material and it can get caught in the fur when swimming. Please keep in mind, the color can be variable; the water may have a scum or be discolored (e.g., green, blue, yellowish, red, or brown).
What to look for: vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, depression, not eating (minutes to days), yellow discoloration of the gums; pets may experience an increase in thirst or urination (minutes to days). Rash, hives, and evidence of an allergic reaction can occur (minutes to days).
The main thing here is to avoid letting your dogs jump into water with different colored algae on the surface.
If your pet has been exposed and you are unsure what to do, we can see you during normal business hours – please call ahead 949-766-4449. If it occurs after we close, please contact animal urgent care in Mission Viejo or the ASPCA poison control (888) 426-4435 for the most up to date advice.
In love and health,
Dr. Jenna Cooper