How Blue-Green Algae Can Harm Your Dog

Blue-green algae is a term that describes a large number of bacteria. Under the right conditions, these bacteria can turn into slimy, blue-green (sometimes brown or red) blooms that appear on top of water. If ingested by your dog (or any other animal), this algae can cause permanent liver damage and even be fatal. In this article, we’ll explore how to protect your dog from toxic blue-green algae and what to do if you suspect your dog might have been exposed.

Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae is a type of microorganism known as cyanobacteria, which are single-celled organisms that can be found in soil, water and air. They’re also known as blue-green algae because their color ranges from blue to green depending on their stage of development. These types of organisms live in fresh water or moist soil environments where they get their nutrients from the sun—but they can also thrive in salt water!

Blue-green algae (also called “blue-green slime”) doesn’t pose any danger to humans; however, it can be toxic for dogs if they eat it while swimming near lakes or ponds containing high concentrations of this bacteria.


Blue-green algae is found in ponds and lakes, as well as soil and the ocean. Blue-green algae can also be found in the water supply and even in drinking water.

To be exposed to blue-green algae, your dog must ingest it somehow—whether through ingestion of contaminated food or water or by nose or eye contact.

Symptoms of Exposure to Blue-Green Algae

If your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae, they may exhibit any of the following symptoms:

  • Excessive salivation or drooling
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Acting lethargic and weak
  • Neurological symptoms (e.g., seizures, tremors, collapse)

If you suspect that your pet has ingested blue-green algae, take him or her to the vet right away. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms yourself after exposure to blue-green algae, it’s important to seek medical attention as well. In addition to humans and dogs being susceptible to algae poisoning through their diet, there is also potential for other animals (such as cats) and fish (like koi) who live in water with high levels of blue-green algae growth being affected by toxins from the algae in their environment.

Treatment for Exposure to Blue-Green Algae

If your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae and you are concerned about the effects on their health, contact your veterinarian for advice. Your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help your dog recover from any damage caused by the exposure. The veterinarian may also recommend that you keep your dog away from water until further notice. This is important because blue-green algae can spread rapidly when it comes into contact with other bodies of water, such as lakes and ponds.

Prevention of Exposure to Blue-Green Algae

The first step in protecting your dog against blue-green algae is to keep it away from any natural water sources. If you live in an area where this is a problem, make sure that your dog does not drink from any lakes or ponds. Blue-green algae can also be found in stagnant pools of water, so make sure your pool is clean and healthy.

If you suspect that your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae, take him to the vet immediately. The symptoms are similar to those caused by other types of poisoning and may include vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. If the exposure occurred through drinking contaminated water or swimming in contaminated pools, do not try to induce vomiting or administer activated charcoal at home unless instructed by a veterinarian first!

If you yourself have been exposed (or think you have been), seek medical attention immediately; otherwise call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222

Dogs are more likely than humans to die from algae exposure.

The next time your dog comes in from playing outside, you might want to check for blue-green algae. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care found that dogs are more likely than humans to die from exposure to toxic algae, with a mortality rate of approximately 60 percent.

Blue-green algae is most commonly found in lakes and ponds during hot summer months, but it can also grow indoors if your home’s air conditioning system malfunctions and creates stagnant water conditions. Red algae is typically found on rocks or sand near bodies of water and can cause skin irritation when touched by humans or pets (especially cats).

The toxic effects are usually caused by ingesting contaminated water or food—but even inhalation of small amounts can lead to serious illness since dogs tend not only to drink more water than humans do but also lap up their bowls while eating dry kibble out of them (which increases their risk). Dogs also tend not to be very good at getting rid of excess salt like we do with sweat through our pores—so they’re more susceptible than us!


Your lake is a beautiful place for you and your dog to swim, hike, or play. It is important for you to know about the algae that grows in your favorite body of water so that you can know how to avoid it.

Be aware of any algae blooms that may be growing in an area. Do not let your dog drink from puddles or standing water. Wash off any areas of the beach where your dog may have stepped with soap and water immediately after coming out of the water. If your dog has been exposed to blue-green algae, seek veterinary assistance immediately.