Dog owners are being warned to take extra precautions with their pets after a number of reports of potential blue-green algae toxicity in Manitoba.
Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, is a type of algae that can produce toxins which can be fatal to people and pets.
“A very small amount can kill pets,” Veterinarian Dr. Jonas Watson told Global News. “It does not take very much (toxic) water being ingested.”
Algal blooms have become quite common in Lake Winnipeg and while testing must be done each time to determine if they become toxic, veterinarians in Winnipeg told Global News this is the first summer they have seen dogs come in for treatment from poisoning.
The signs of poisoning happen almost immediately, and often the pets don’t survive.
“Fairly soon after ingestion you would see animals showing neurological signs, collapsing, having seizures, tremors, seeming very unwell,” Watson said. “Very often they die within 12 hours.”
According to one 24-hour emergency veterinarian, they have treated a handful of dogs for it this summer.
While each survived, that’s a rare occurrence, according to one veterinarian.
“There tends to not be an antidote for blue-green algae toxicity,” Watson said. “It tends to be supportive care, IV fluids, anti-seizure medication, anti-vomit medication, treatment for shock and prayer.”
The Lake Winnipeg Foundation (LWF) said algal blooms are becoming a bigger issues, specifically in Lake Winnipeg, each summer.
“In 2017 we heard about blooms in the South Basin in July and they lasted until September and it looks like that might happen this year,” LWF Executive Director Alexis Kanu said.
The province monitors roughly 60 beaches across the province for the presence of algal blooms. Samples are collected when a bloom is present.
There was algae advisories posted at least three times in July at Victoria Beach alone.
“The health impact is something we need to talk more about. We need to study more,” Kanu said. “Those are scary effects. If what we’re seeing continues to happen, it means our lakes aren’t safe for us to use.”
According to the province, if large amounts of green scum are visible in the water, it is advisable to: