What local pet owners should know about blue-green algae

Local News

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — A toxic algae killed three dogs within hours after they visited a pond in North Carolina. Since the incident took place, health officials in Virginia are warning dog owners about taking their pets for a swim.

When animals come in contact with fresh or salt water in the area, it could have dangerous algae in it. Some pet owners may not be aware of the signs that could be deadly.

“I try not to think about it too much because something like that is sad,” said local dog owner Mason Jesmir. “You never want to think about something like that.”

According to the Virginia Department of Health, blue-green algae are microscopic organisms that can be found in any fresh or salt water. Your pet could be in danger if they come in contact with the algae.

“I was going to take my dog to the river. Once, I saw that, I thought I’m not going anywhere near water. At least for now,” Jesmir told 8News Wednesday.

So, how can pet owners tell if the water could be dangerous? An algae bloom results in a color change in the water, which could be a warning.

“Appear in warm water that appears to be slow-moving and often times full of nutrients. It’s pretty common that it occurs in ponds or lakes,” Margaret Smigo, who is with the Dept. of Health, said.

Smigo says that quick thinking can help save your pet’s life if you feel they may have been in contact with the algae.

“You want to make sure your skin and your dog’s skin is cleaned and flushed with fresh water,” Smigo explained. “You want to make sure children and pets are not allowed to drink water or the scums the things that may wash up on the shore line.”

Health officials say that people should avoid allowing their pet to get into water that looks discolored.

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