Blue Green Algae

We have read that many beaches in Florida and Mississippi have closed to swimming this year, and the beaches in Mississippi remain closed at this writing as a consequence of fresh water pouring into the Gulf following flooding. The blue-green algae that has killed dozens of dolphins on the Gulf Coast this month can also kill your dog and wildlife as well as domestic animals like cattle, if they get access to ponds or lakes and drink water with blue-green algae floating on the surface. The algae affects the liver and can cause organ failure, but more frighteningly, drinking blue-green algae water can kill a dog within 60 minutes if it affects the nervous system. Be particularly careful around areas where farmers overuse fertilizers or there is fertilizer run-off, since fertilizer contributes the nutrients in the form of phosphorous and nitrogen. Sometimes blue-green algae is especially evident at the down-wind part of a lake or in sheltered, shallow areas. You may see green pond scum on the rocks or out of the water, up around the edges of the lake, and if so, you should walk farther away to keep your dog’s paws off the scum–you don’t want him to lick his paws after walking on the green stuff. Blue-green algae can be found anywhere water is stagnant, including water features in backyards and birdbaths.

Vigilance is required when you are walking with your dog. Keep her on lead, don’t let her drink from ponds, lakes, or other stagnant water, and if she does drink from brackish water with algae on the surface, watch your dog for symptoms on the way to the vet. Among the symptoms you might see are weakness, excess salivation, seizures, or diarrhea. If your dog drinks algae water, quick action is essential. Your vet may induce vomiting, they could give your dog charcoal, or they may “pump the stomach”.

Most Frenchies aren’t really built for sunny summer outdoor activities, since they don’t handle heat very well. Still, we do know some Frenchies who love to go boating and sailing and hiking. If your Frenchie is one of those, keep an eye open for algae in the lake or pond and have fun out there!