As you all head out to the lakes this holiday weekend, please keep this in mind ...
"If in doubt, STAY OUT ... if it looks bad, or smells bad, AVOID contact!"
The hot and humid weather, such as we have been experiencing, brings forth the dangerous blue-green algae bloom that we see everywhere. Dogs are at particular risk as they wade in shoreline areas where algae may accumulate. This is VERY poisonous to our Boxers, so keep them far away from it ... and certainly NEVER let them drink from water sources that look like this.
Dog owners should be aware that toxic algae blooms usually occur in late summer or early fall, but can occur at any time. They can occur in ponds, lakes, and reservoirs in the summer ... places we often take our Boxers for recreation, exercise, and cooling -- places they also routinely drink the water. Some of these algae blooms look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of the water. While it's often described as looking like pea soup or spilled green paint, it can take other forms as well. The blooms can be blue, bright green, brown, or red ("red tide" is perhaps the best-known so-called "harmful algal bloom"), but some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. The water may or may not smell bad. As a further difficulty to dog owners trying to protect their dogs, not all algal blooms are toxic!
When an algal bloom is toxic, it can kill or seriously sicken an animal, sometimes as quickly as within 15 or 20 minutes of ingestion. The effects depend on the amount ingested, the size of the animal, the amount of food in the animal's stomach (a full stomach has some protective effect), the sensitivity of the species and individual.
According to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, "An animal that has ingested toxins from an algae bloom can show a variety of symptoms, ranging from skin irritation or vomiting to severe disorders involving the circulatory, nervous and digestive systems, and severe skin lesions. In the worst case, the animal may suffer convulsions and die . . . . People are seldom seriously affected by toxic algae because the unpleasant odor and appearance of water associated with blue-green algae blooms tend to make us avoid it. However, skin rashes, nasal irritation, or other health effects may result from skin contact with algal toxins. Swallowing or ingesting water with a blue-green algae bloom may cause symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or nausea; headache, throat irritation, or muscle pain; and in severe cases paralysis or respiratory failure."
Further, the Minnesota Department of Health recommends that humans not ingest, swim or wade in water with blue-green algae, or let children or pets enter it. "If contact does occur, the material should be washed off thoroughly, paying special attention to the swimsuit area. If your pet comes in contact with a bloom, wash off your pet's coat to prevent the pet from ingesting the algae while self-cleaning."
If you suspect your Boxer is sick from the algae, call a veterinarian immediately.