Raleigh pet owners concerned after dog dies from blue-green algae poisoning

Wake County News

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A Raleigh woman warned fellow pet owners about letting their animals drink from Falls Lake.

With all the nice, warm weather the area has been experiencing, a lot of people are taking their four-legged family members to enjoy the outdoors.

The woman posted on the Nextdoor app, saying that her dog died just after Thanksgiving from blue-green algae poisoning.

She wrote that she took her dog to the vet, but it ultimately had to be put down.

So how do people know what to look for, both in the water and in their dogs?

“We’re usually out here at least three times a week,” said Kristin Giordano.

Giordano and her dog, Scout, love coming to Falls Lake.

“She’s out there swimming and gulping down water as she swims,” she added.

But Scout wasn’t allowed to get into the sparkling blue water on Monday. Giordano saw the social media post urging people to be careful with their dogs.

A lot of people knew about the post and planned accordingly.

“I don’t want to take the chance with the algae,” said Jane Earman, who was walking her two dogs.

So what is the toxic algae?

Dr. David Dorman is a Professor of Toxicology at North Carolina State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

He said blue-green algae is a bacteria that grows in warm weather, and often looks like paint or scum on the surface of the water.

Another sign of toxic bacteria in a water source: a fish kill.

But it’s not always visible.

“The blooms can be blown around. Like on a windy day like today, the bloom can move around the lake and the toxin can be left behind,” Dorman said.

The bacteria produce two different toxins.

One will impact a dog up within an hour of them drinking it.

“Muscle tremors and seizures,” Dorman said.

The other kind of toxin can take a day or two to appear.

“The dog may stop eating. They may develop vomiting, diarrhea, or they might develop yellow coloration around the eye from jaundice,” Dorman said.

It’s not something to take lightly. All those symptoms should prompt an emergency vet visit.

“Something that can kill cows can easily kill any sized dog,” Dorman said.

Pet owners are concerned.

“Don’t they test the water on a regular basis?” Earman said.

They do. A representative with the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality said they test Falls Lake once a month and twice a month in the summer.

They haven’t finished evaluating November’s test results.

In the meantime, officials are encouraging people to report any signs of blue-green algae blooms on the citizen report dashboard. It alerts them they need to investigate and alerts other people they need to be extra cautious around those bodies of water.

CBS 17 called about a dozen Raleigh-based vet offices on Monday.

One office said it had a dog come in in the morning. It was feeling sick after going to Falls Lake.

As of Monday evening, the dashboard indicated there are a couple of reports of blue-green algae in the Raleigh area.

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