TOPEKA (KSNT) – The recent spread of blue-green algae and harmful algae blooms (HAB) in Kansas lakes could pose a toxic hazard for not just people, but their pets as well.

According to the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, blue-green algae poses a significant health threat to dogs. Owners that allow their dogs to walk on, roll in, eat decaying algae along the shore could be exposing their pet to serious illness and death. Dogs can even become ill just by licking affected water off of their fur after exposure.

Just a small amount of blue-green algae can sicken or kill a dog. The signs of illness in dogs usually occur within 30 minutes of exposure and include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, convulsions, difficulty breathing and general weakness.

Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks

Lakes are not the only waterbodies that could be home to blue-green algae: the growths can occur in lakes, ponds, wetlands, creeks and drainage areas. The growth of blue-green algae or HABs generally coincides with the arrival of warm temperatures and nutrient-laden waters.

To help protect your four-legged friend, the KDWP and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment encourage owners to follow these tips:

  • Carry potable water for yourself and your dog when hunting or going for walks along the shore
  • Train dogs to come to you for a drink of water
  • Rinse off your dog with potable water as quickly as possible if your dog swims in a HAB or walks through dried algae
  • Do not let your dogs eat dried algae along the shoreline. A bluish color along the shore indicates dying, toxic blue-green algae
  • Do not let your dog lick their paws if they have walked through dried algae and remember that waterfowl in HAB-affected water may have toxic cells on their feathers

If you think that you or your dog has come into contact with blue-green algae, reach out to your physician or veterinarian. For more information on blue-green algae, click on the KDWP’s website here or the KDHE’s website here.