Dog owners urged to take caution in water due to blue-green algae blooms

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FLINT (WJRT) - (08/12/2019) - As we approach the tail end of the dog days of summer, many families are flocking to the water.

But several dog owners across the country are sharing stories about the dangers lurking in freshwater lakes.

What started as a regular day at the lake - soon left three different families mourning the loss of their dogs.

First Austin, Texas, then Willingham, North Carolina, then just this weekend Georgia.

One common link is the deaths are believed to be caused by blue-green algae in the water.

But is this something dog owners need to be concerned about here in Michigan?

"We do have the cases where we have in primarily in the lakes and also Lake Erie where we do have Blue-Green Algae blooms occurring,” said Gary Kohlhepp, who supervises the Lake Michigan Unit of the Water Resource Division for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy. “They can vary, sometimes they come quickly, sometimes they last for a week or two, sometimes they're here and gone in a day."

Kohlhepp said the algae are a natural component for freshwater cycles, which makes it difficult to fight. Especially this time of the year.

"They typically occur this time of the year when you have hot weather, lots of sunlight and maybe not a lot of circulation in lakes where the waters still,” said Kohlhepp.

He says not all blue-green algae produce toxins but that can change quickly.
And while it could cause skin irritation or rashes to humans, it poses a much bigger threat to dogs.

'With dogs what happens is that they tend to ingest a lot of the water when they're swimming or maybe if they swim in the bloom when they're done they'll clean themselves and lick their fur and ingest the algae that way,” said Kohlhepp.

Rinsing your dog off or bathing it can help eliminate the risk.
But the best way to avoid losing your family pet is to look before you get in the water.

"When in doubt stay out. If it looks very green and you're not sure don't take a chance."

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