HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WMBF) - Dog owners are being warned about the dangers of toxic blue-green algae after three dogs in North Carolina died within hours of exposure to the harmful algae bloom.
Veterinarians are urging people to be aware of the effects of contaminated water.
The blue-green algae contain cyanotoxins which come from a bacteria most commonly found in freshwater bodies like ponds and lakes, according to Dr. Isabelle Ying with the Myrtle Beach Animal Hospital.
“It’s a little scary that it’s harming dogs, for sure with my own dog being here at this body of water it’s something you want to think about," said Alex Koroskenyi, a dog owner.
A woman in Wilmington is spreading the word of the dangers after her three dogs died of poisoning from blue-green algae Thursday. Her Facebook post has since been shared 25,000 times. A fourth dog died Saturday after swimming in a lake in Marietta, Georgia. Still most pet owners WMBF News spoke to said they’ve never heard of it.
“It’s tragic, it’s terrible. You don’t know, dogs pick up everything,” said Kevin Fitzsimons, a dog owner.
The blue-green algae is highly toxic to dogs, who can be exposed to it by drinking from a body of water where the blue-green algae is present, or even by licking it off their fur.
“These toxins will attack the body’s nervous system as well as the kidneys, the brain, nerves, liver, and the respiratory tract,” said Ying.
Ying added there’s no antidote for the poisoning, and exposure nearly always leads to death in dogs.
Symptoms can occur within 15 to 30 minutes of exposure, causing dogs to experience respiratory stress and liver failure.
According to information from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, this type of toxic algae bloom thrives during warmer months in nutrient-rich waters.