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For the Love of the Dog

Blue Green Algae Suspected Cause of Dog Death

In Elephant Butte, NM, a little Jack Russell Terrier died and authorities feel it may be due to possibly ingesting blue green algae from Elephant Butte Lake.

The 12 lb dog had been swimming for a couple of hours previous to becoming ill and dying.

Although is hasn’t been confirmed that the dog died due to this toxin producing algae, park officials are advising pet owners to take precautions and keep pets out of the water when there’s algae present.

Blue green algae naturally occurs in waters that are shallow, warm and stagnant. The microorganisms can cause a potent smell and, sometimes, be toxic to animals and humans. The scum-like algae can be blue-green to red in color.

Signs of poisoning can start within a couple hours after first contact with the algae.

Side effects for humans include eye, ear or skin irritation and gastrointestinal problems. Smaller people and animals ingesting large amounts of the algae are more susceptible to death.

What is blue green algae?

  • Technically known as cyanobacteria, the microscopic organisms live naturally in lakes, streams and ponds at low levels.
  • Under favorable conditions, usually in the summer, the algae can increase dramatically and bloom, creating thick mats, or scrum, on the water’s surface.
  • Between 30 to 50 percent of blooms are nontoxic, but it’s best to avoid the area until the water is tested and declared safe.

For more information: Cyanobacteria

This is not the first case I have heard of blue green algae being the possible culprit in a dog’s death. In early July there was another case but there was no conclusive evidence in the end that the algae was the cause. Still, better safe than sorry.

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