LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Toxic algae blooms have already claimed the lives of a few dogs around the United States. With the warm weather, it is the peak time of year for this hazardous algae to form.
A dog enjoys Jacobson Dog Park
Blue-green algae bloom form from two main ingredients -- warm water and runoff fertilizer.
"They like sunshine, they like the warm conditions, and they like excessive fertilizer," Dr. Megan Romano, a Toxicology Resident at the University of Kentucky, said.
These two things combined make for the perfect storm. A lot of the time it will produce visible algae. The blooms can be colored blue, green or in some cases even brown. Romano says they will have a scum or mat looking texture to them. However, not all of the toxic algae can be seen by the naked eye.
"There's no way to know just by looking if it is dangerous or not. Anything that has kind of that discolored look to it has the potential to be toxic," Dr. Romano said.
The unfortunate news is that if a dog does come in contact with the algae, it can be hard to treat. Treating the pet as early as possible if it starts to seize, have difficulty breathing, diarrhea, or anything outside of their normal behavior, can be the difference between life and death.
"These can be very serious, very deadly," Dr. Romano said. "It is important that if an owner notices any illness in their dog after access to a body of water that they seek veterinarian care right away."
Dr. Romano recommends keeping dogs out of water that may look questionable as a preventative measure.
"If you wouldn't let your kids drink it, you probably shouldn't let your animals in there either," she said.
Dogs are not the only animals that the toxic algae may harm. Farm animals such as cattle and horses are at risk as well.