(CNN) – Two dog owners in North Carolina are devastated after their three dogs died within hours of exposure to blue-green algae.
Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz took the dogs to a pond in Wilmington to play and swim Thursday night. When they were back home, one of the Westies started acting strangely, so they took her to an emergency animal hospital.
The other dogs started seizing and showing signs of liver failure.
All three died just after midnight Friday.
The owners want to warn other pet owners about the dangers of this toxic algae.
“People need to know about this. like I said, if we had any clue this was ever a thing they would have never come. I had no idea, and once we got to the emergency vet last night, they also weren’t sure,” Martin said.
According to Blue Cross for pets, blue-green algae blooms can produce harmful toxins that stop a dog’s liver from functioning. Dogs can be exposed by drinking it directly or by licking their fur. Exposure is often fatal.
The algae is poisonous to cats, too.
Just this weekend, a pastor at a local church in New Middletown warned parishioners to avoid a pond on church property for fear that the blue looking algae on the water could be dangerous
Common signs to watch for: (Source: Pet Poison Helpline)
- Blood in stool or black, tarry stool
- Pale mucous membranes
- Excessive secretions (e.g., salivation, lacrimation, etc.)
- Neurologic signs (including muscle tremors, muscle rigidity, paralysis, etc.)
- Blue discoloration of the skin and mucous membranes
- Difficulty breathing
According to Pet Poison Helpline, Cyanobacteria (also known as blue-green algae) are microscopic bacteria found in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water ecosystems. They can produce toxins (such as microcystins and anatoxins) that affect people, livestock and pets that swim in and drink from the algae-contaminated water. Blue-green algae grow and colonize to form “blooms” that give the water a blue-green appearance or a “pea soup” like color. It also looks like blue or green paint on the surface of the water