Blue Algae are also known as "Cyanobacteria;" a name that better depicts these organisms. They are actually not algae, but bacteria that tend to live in aquatic environments. Blue algae have the potential of creating a very powerful toxin, which in dogs can cause potential toxicity and even death.
Blue Algae develop in still waters. When exposed to the right temperatures and amounts of sunlight, typically in the warmer months, the algae can bloom, creating a very powerful toxin that causes the water to turn either blue, pea soup green, red, brown, or worse, develop a typical surface scum with often has an unpleasant musty odour.
Dogs develop algae toxicity when they swim in blue algae infested waters. The level of damage the dog sustains depends on different variables such as: the size of the dog, the amount of water ingested, the level of toxicity of the water and the amount of food in the dog's stomach.
Dogs may develop some or a few of the following symptoms depending on the level of exposure and the type of algae involved: nausea, bloody diarrhoea, pale gums, skin or eye irritations, convulsions and, in severe cases, even death within minutes. When the nervous system is involved, dogs will develop muscle tremors, laboured breathing and difficulty moving.
The quicker veterinarian help is sought the higher chances of recovery. Affected dogs are usually induced to vomit if the contaminated water was recently ingested, activated charcoal is often given to prevent further absorption of the toxins and sometimes atropine may be helpful.
Dogs that survive the toxicity may have to deal with life time complications. This translates into dogs that will be sensitive to light and suffer chronic weight problems as well as a general inability to thrive.