Pet owners across the country have been urged to be cautious after an increase in reports of toxic blue green algae which can be "fatal within days" in dogs.
British Veterinary Association (BVA) is urging pet owners to "take extra precautions" while walking their dogs near bodies of water affected by the toxic algae.
Blue green algae blooms may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water and can contain toxins that can be harmful for animals if ingested, even in small quantities.
Dogs can swallow this blue green algae by drinking water from an affected lake, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim.
Ingesting the algae can be "fatal within days" if the symptoms go untreated.
British Veterinary Association Senior Vice President Gudrun Ravetz said pet owners who notice the symptoms associated with ingesting the toxin should "rush to your local vet without delay".
He said: “We know that some dogs enjoy nothing better than a paddle in a cool lake while on a walk in this hot weather, but my advice to pet owners would be to keep your dog on a lead during walks near water confirmed to have toxic algal blooms.
"While not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually, so it is better to be safe than sorry.
“Prompt veterinary treatment is key to tackling the effects of the toxins and ensuring a good chance of recovery, so if you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue green algae, rush it to your local vet without delay."
What are the symptoms?
According to a BVA spokesman, symptoms after ingesting the toxic algae can appear within a few minutes or hours, depending on the type of toxin ingested.
A range of symptoms can appear and pet owners have been told "prompt veterinary treatment is key to tackling the effects of the toxins and ensuring a good chance of recovery".
If you suspect your dog has ingested the algae, BVA says "rush it to your local vet without delay" because "if left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be fatal within days".
Symptoms of ingesting blue green algae commonly include:
- Trouble breathing
- Blood in faeces
How do I keep my dog safe?
To keep your dog safe from the toxic algae, BVA recommends:
- Looking out for any warning signs put up by the local council near water bodies.
- Keeping pets on a lead and by your side around water bodies known or suspected to have blue-green algal bloom – don’t let them swim in it or drink from it.
- If your dog has been swimming outside, washing it thoroughly with clean water afterwards.
- Rushing your pet to a vet immediately in case you’re concerned it may have ingested toxic algae. There is currently no known antidote for the toxins, so prompt treatment is essential to ensure that your pet has a good chance of recovery.
Where has blue green algae been confirmed?
The BVA has sent a warning to pet owners due to the increase in reports of toxic blue green algae in locations across the UK this summer.
The presence of blue green algae has been confirmed in water bodies in Scotland, Wales, the Lake District, North Lincolnshire and East Northamptonshire, among other locations.
There have also been confirmed outbreaks in Aylesbury and Didco. tBlue-green algae was also identified in Lake Wilson, near Windsor, Berkshire, according to The Press Democrat .
In 2008, the harmful algae was spotted in a popular Brent reservoir .