Keep Fido safe from blue-green algae, officials advise

(North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality)

CARMEL – News of three dogs dying in North Carolina last month after being exposed to toxic algae after swimming in a pond has prompted Putnam County Health Department officials to share warnings and tips on keeping Fido safe.

Health Department Sanitarian Shawn Rogan urged the public call the health department if they “see anything that looks suspicious in the water – be it cloudy, discolored or unclear – avoid it completely.”

The county will inspect the situation.

The US Environmental Protection Agency reported “clusters of dog deaths” over the past three summers after pets were exposed to toxic algae.

Rogan explained that dogs are so susceptible because “when the pooch jumps into a lake or pond, it swallows an enormous amount of water. If the water is contaminated with toxins or cyanobacteria, the dog ingests it directly which can result in death. An additional concern can result when a dog exits the water, if its owner fails to hose it down the pup licks its hair further exposing it to potential harm.”

Rogan’s advice: “When in doubt, stay out! The best way to ensure the safety of you and your pets is to avoid contact with water that appears to be experiencing an algae bloom.”

If someone believes his or her dog may have been exposed to a harmful algae bloom, the EPA urges the dog’s caretaker to “immediately rinse the animal in clean, fresh water while wearing gloves and watch for symptoms that can occur anywhere from 15 minutes to several days following exposure. Should the dog suffer from vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, staggering, drooling, difficulty in breathing or convulsing, the owner is urged to take it to a veterinarian immediately.”

Rogan reminded the public that “Toxic algae can sicken people but it is especially harmful to animals.”

The Putnam Health Department can be reached at 845-808-1390.

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