Harmful NYC Algal Blooms Are Potentially Toxic To Dogs


Did you know that harmful algal blooms are a potential source of toxins to dogs?  

While most algal blooms are not harmful to people and animals, blue-green algae (which is actually a type of bacteria) can produce toxins that are harmful to the liver or the central nervous system.  Pet Owners should be mindful of keeping their dogs away from any water that has a harmful algal bloom.

Routine monitoring has identified the presence of 
harmful algal blooms at three  NYC locations:

Prospect Park Lake in Brooklyn
Central Park Lake in Manhattan
 Indian Pond in the Bronx 

The cyanobacteria responsible for these NYC algal blooms produce hepatotoxins and neurotoxins, as well as irritants that can cause pets to experience skin irritation and an allergic reaction.  Dogs are especially susceptible to exposure because they are more likely to drink and swim in the water.  If they ingest the affected water, they can experience any of the following signs of toxicosis:

Liver Toxins:
Repeated Vomiting
Diarrhea or Tarry Stool
Loss of Appetite, Anorexia
Abdominal Swelling & Tenderness
Cyanosis of Skin
Dark Urine or Reduced/No Urine Output

  Nerve Toxins:
Stumbling, Seizures, Convulsions, Paralysis
Excessive Salivation/Drooling
Disorientation, Inactivity or Depression
Elevated Heart Rate, Difficult Breathing

Skin Toxins: 
Skin Rashes, Hives

How Can You Prevent Toxicosis in Dogs?
Keep your dog on a leash when near any of the affected bodies of water.  

If your pet does go in the water, follow these steps:
  1. Remove your pet and don’t allow them to lick their fur or paws.
  2. Rinse/wash your pet thoroughly with soap and fresh water using rubber gloves.  Otherwise a towel and a rag can be used to remove the algal debris.
  3. Wash your own hands with fresh water after washing your dog.
  4. Keep an eye out for any for the above toxicosis symptoms.
If your dog or any other animal exhibits symptoms of harmful algal bloom poisoning, contact the New York State Department of Health by emailing harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov and contact our office if you have any questions!

The Department of Environmental Conservation routinely samples bodies of water in New York.  Pet owners can view the complete results on their website.

Please give our offices a call if you have any questions about 
the effects of algal blooms on pets in NYC!  

The Cat Hospital

Paws & Claws

Fifth Avenue Cat Clinic

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