Dogs and algae blooms -- a fatal combination

Jul 26, 2017

As scientists watch for the spread of toxic algae blooms in western Lake Erie and other hotspots around the Great Lakes, it's important to remember the dangers for pets.

“Dogs can be particularly susceptible to the effects of [harmful algal blooms] because of their behavior, sometimes drinking water from ponds, lakes, and streams; cleaning their wet fur; and consuming algal mats or scum with attractive odors,” according Jesse Lepak, a N.Y. Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist.

Credit N.Y. Sea Grant

N.Y. Sea Grant offers a fact sheet that will help you identify blooms and spot signs of poisoning in dogs. It also offers tips to reduce the risk to your pet -- like keeping them from licking wet fur.

This is the time of the year to start paying attention to the problem. Blooms are starting to appear in western Lake Erie, and they often pop up in other parts of the Great Lakes, like Green Bay.

​The blooms are triggered by excess nutrients; most of those nutrients come from agricultural runoff.

And with the heavy spring rains along the Great Lakes region this spring, scientists expect the blooms to be a significant problem this year.