Toggle Search

Blue-Green Algae

Is it safe to go in the water?

As the summer heats up in Wisconsin, so do area rivers, ponds and lakes. As they do, algae begins to grow. Algae is an important source of food for wildlife in Wisconsin, but certain types have proven toxic to dogs and humans.

Blue-Green Algae, or Cyanobacteria, grow in areas with high nutrient levels of phosphorous and gives off an unpleasant odor. This type of algae gets its name from its color. Animals, as well as humanscan become ill after coming in contact with this type of algae. 

Symptoms of illness from Blue-Green Algae may include a skin rash, hives, runny nose, irritated eyes or throat irritation. If ingested, Blue-Green Algae can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, headache, muscle and joint pain, seizures and convulsions. In severe case, paralysis, respiratory failure or death can occur after ingestion.

The best way to prevent exposure to Blue-Green Algae toxins is to avoid coming in contact with standing algae in rivers, ponds and lakes. Do not use untreated water from these areas as drinking water for either you or your companion animal. Boiling the water can actually release toxins into the air, so bring along bottled water on your excursions this summer. Be sure to completely rinse off if you or your dog have come in contact with algae. 

If your companion animal suffers from any of the symptoms listed above after swimming in area waterways this summer, be sure to consult your veterinarian immediately or contact an emergency veterinary hospital. 

For more information on Blue-Green Algae, click here to go to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.