Local vet warns dog owners of possible algae threat

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — We’ve all heard of the dog days of summer, and we’ve been living in them the past few months.

The heat makes many dogs want to cool off in the water, but a local vet is cautioning dog owners to beware. There have been reports of many dogs dying from toxic algae found in bodies of water.

Toxic algae is to blame for dog deaths in North Carolina, Texas, and Georgia.

“It’s a cyanobacteria that causes a couple of different types of toxins,” Dr. Ben Garrett with the Dothan Animal Hospital said.

These algae can form in both fresh and marine water.

“If you look at a pond, if it’s covered with green or brown algae, there’s a chance that it could be in bloom, which can be toxic, but not all of them are toxic,” Garrett said.

The heat is one reason to blame for this ongoing issue.

“With the warmer days like we have, there are fertilizers that can run off into ponds in areas of stagnant water that can cause the blooms,” Garrett said.

Most dogs get exposed to it by drinking the water. Garrett said that if this is the case, they will show signs quickly.

“Vomiting, diarrhea, with one of the toxins that can affect the liver, the other is a neurotoxin that causes tremors, shakes, seizures,” he said.

Garrett has only dealt with one case in his 30 years of helping animals.

“The only way that you can test this to see if there is a toxin in there is to have the water tested so you don’t know when you see the water that that’s what’s going on,” he said.

So while there may not be any confirmed cases in this area, it is advised to err on the side of caution.

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