Keeping pets safe from blue-green algae in CT – CTPost

After recent news of three dogs in North Carolina dying after exposure to toxic algae, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection shared some warnings and tips on how to keep pets safe.

As of Tuesday, the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection said there are no state swimming areas closed because of blue-green algae concerns. DEEP does not routinely test waters that aren’t designated as swimming areas. The agency urges residents concerned about local swimming areas to reach out to their local health department.

Anyone who thinks they might have spotted a bloom is asked to snap a picture and email it to

The topic was recently brought to the forefront when a North Carolina dog owner shared the news that three of her pets died after swimming in a pond that had blue-green algae in it.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency said there have been “small clusters of dog deaths” reported over the past three summers after the pets were exposed to toxic algae.

Dogs can be exposed to toxins by skin contact with water contaminated with cyanobacteria or toxins, when swallowing water or by licking it off fur or hair.

“While not all blooms are dangerous, if you observe an algae bloom, the best thing to do is prevent your pet from entering that water,” DEEP said. “While not all blooms are dangerous, if you observe an algae bloom, the best thing to do is prevent your pet from entering that water.”

DEEP said green water could be a sign of cyanobacteria blooms — which can pose health risks — or it could be harmless aquatic plants. The struggle is being able to tell the difference.

“If it looks like a paint spill, it could make you ill,” DEEP said, reciting a phrase to help residents remember what’s safe and what’s not. “But if it looks like a lentil seed, don’t worry — it’s duckweed.”

Cyanobacteria blooms typically appear bright green or brown and look like pea soup or paint has been spilled in the water, DEEP said. Not all cyanobacteria are harmful, but some types produce toxins that can cause skin rashes or more severe illnesses related to the liver, digestive tract and neurological system.

Duckweed growths can look similar to a cyanobacteria bloom from a distance. But, up close, common duckweed looks like small lentil seeds floating on the water. Duckweed has one to three small, flat, oval leaves. Although duckweed is not toxic, thick growth can smother water-bodies and kill fish.

“When in doubt, stay out,” DEEP said. “The best way to ensure the safety of you and your pets is to avoid contact with water that appears to be experiencing a bloom.”

The EPA said some of the best ways to avoid exposing dogs to toxic algae is to know what it looks like, not to let dogs drink or swim in water if it’s “slimy or looks like foam, scum or mats on the surface of the water.” The EPA said to avoid allowing dogs to swim or drink water if the color is “weird.”

“Harmful algal blooms can be blue, bright green, brown or red and may look like paint floating on the water,” the EPA said. “It stinks. Some (but not all) harmful algae produce a nauseating smell.”

If someone thinks their dog may have been exposed to harmful algae bloom, rinse the dog off while wearing gloves. Rinse the dog in clean, fresh water. Then, watch for symptoms.

“Symptoms can arise anywhere from 15 minutes to several days after exposure,” the EPA said. “Take pets to the vet immediately if they suffer from: diarrhea or vomiting, weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing or convulsions.”

And, any sight of these blooms should be reported to the local health department.

Algae occurs naturally in water. But excess nutrient from various sources contributes to a growing number of harmful algal blooms, the EPA said.

“These sometimes toxic blooms now occur in every state in the nation,” the EPA said. “Toxic algae can sicken people as well, but it is especially harmful to animals.”

More information on this topic can be found at and

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