Tulsa Veterinarian: Blue-Green Algae Can Kill Your Animals

Tuesday, August 13th 2019, 11:28 pm
By: Kristen Weaver

Three North Carolina dogs who died just hours after swimming in a pond with algae blooms are causing concern for Green Country pet owners.

A Tulsa vet said late summer, stagnant water, and fertilizer are the perfect storm to create toxins in blue-green algae. If dogs ingest the algae, it can quickly become fatal. 

It wasn't just in North Carolina where tragedy struck. Another dog died in Georgia and an investigation is underway in Austin where three dogs may have died the same way. The cause is likely from the dogs ingesting toxic bacteria blooming in blue-green algae.

"Blue-green algae is a cyanobacteria. What that means cyanide is created during this bloom," said Dr. Dan Danner with All Creatures Veterinary Clinic. 

You might recognize the almost fluorescent looking algae. It's shown up in years past in several Oklahoma lakes.

"Keystone, Grand Lake, every lake has an issue from time to time," Danner said. 

Dog owners like Chris Clausen said they've seen it, but he didn't know what effect it can have on animals.

"I had seen the reports in years past about the lakes being closed, but I didn't know it could impact dogs," Clausen said. "It's good to know."

Danner said the blue-green algae is formed in stagnant water, usually in hot summer months.

Animals can be poisoned by swimming in or drinking water where the algae have formed toxins.

"It can cause vomiting, diarrhea, kidney, liver issues because it is cyanide," Danner said. 

That means it can kill quickly.

Danner said to get to the vet as soon as something seems off.

Clausen said he and his pup usually avoid freshwater altogether.

"We try to stick to the dog parks, the trails, try to keep him on a leash and keep him safe," Clausen said. 

There are no current reports of similar instances here in Green Country, but if you spot a bloom, avoid the water and call the Oklahoma Department of environmental quality. 

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