Algae dangerous to animals and humans

This week, the Charles River Watershed Association released a public health warning after discovering blooms of cyanobacteria in several sites along the Charles River, from the Mass. Ave. Bridge to the Museum of Science.

According to the advisory, swimmers and boaters should avoid contact with the water, and because the blue-green algae can be toxic to dogs, our canine friends should not be swimming in, or drinking this water as well.

While the formation of blooms typically happens later in the summer, the watershed association acknowledges that the immense heat and amount of sunlight we’ve seen recently, combined with the nutrient pollution already existing in the Charles created a scenario for early blooms of cyanobacteria.

While the discovery has been made in the Charles River, the bacteria thrive in freshwater lakes, streams, ponds and brackish water ecosystems.

Dangerous for Dogs

Exposure and ingestion of cyanobacteria can be life-threatening for dogs.

Onset of symptoms can happen within 30 minutes, or even 24 hours later.

Signs to look for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pale mucous membranes
  • Jaundice
  • Weakness
  • Stumbling
  • Muscle tremors
  • Rigidity
  • Excess salivation
  • Algae in vomit or stool
  • Blood in urine
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Respiratory paralysis
  • Convulsion
  • Seizures

If your dog exhibits any of the aforementioned symptoms after exposure to blue-green algae, seek veterinary help immediately.