Blue-green algae and dogs: what you need to know

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COLORADO SPRINGS — Dog owners be warned. Prospect Lake and Pikeview Reservoir in Colorado Springs are closed after an outbreak of potentially deadly algae.

“There’s a neurotoxin that’s produced by the bacteria in the green blue algae that that neurotoxin can potentially be fatal,” said Dr. Joshua Fisher, veterinarian and co-owner of Pine Creek Veterinary Hospital. “And there’s a small number of reports in fatalities in dogs. The neurotoxin can paralyze the muscles of breathing, and that’s what makes it so fatal.”

“The toxin will actually dry into their fur, and then they’ll lick it off their fur and get a high concentration of that toxin and it will kill them,” said Eric Rodriguez, environmental health and safety specialist for the Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department.

It’s what’s suspected of killing three dogs in North Carolina in a matter of hours of entering a lake.

According to Rodriguez, warm temperatures and a high amount of nutrients in the water can cause this.

Park officials say other lakes in Colorado have had similar issues, and it’s not uncommon.

“The blue green algae blooms in warm water that’s slow moving, brackish or stagnant,” Fisher said. “It doesn’t bloom as often in fresh water or fast-moving water. And it will give a green paint or pea green soup color to the water.”

So, how can you protect your dog from this toxic algae?

Stay out of the water. And if your dog does get in water with the toxic algae, rinse them off immediately.

Look out for these symptoms: vomiting, seizures, jaundice, disorientation, diarrhea, coma, shock, bloody stools.

“If they’ve been in a pool and they’re not eating, they’re vomiting a few days later, then we might want to run some lab work to look at liver values,” Fisher said.

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