What to watch for after 3 dogs die from toxic algae at NC coast

Pets and Animals

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s a summer Sunday night at the dog park for Tori Taylor her dog, Lenny. 

“He’s very energetic,” Taylor said. 

Now, Taylor is learning about an algae that could be toxic to pets.

One woman said her three dogs died from exposure to blue-green algae, after swimming in a Wilmington pond.

“We joke that we’d used to give our dogs bottled water, we’d never put them in a situation like this,” the woman said. “They were everything.”

According to the group, Blue Cross for Pets, the algae can look like green flakes, greenish bundles or brown dots in a pond, lake or stream when clumped together, and it’s most common in hotter, drier months.

They said the algae can harm dogs with toxins that can stop their liver from functioning properly — and some types can kill dogs just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water. 

It’s something Sandra Funari never heard of until now. 

“It’s just unbelievable that could happen,” Funari said. 

Matthew Starr, the Upper Neuse Riverkeeper with the group Sound Rivers, said he hasn’t heard of any issues related to blue-green algae recently in Wake County waters, but it’s important to know harmful algae can form in water throughout North Carolina. 

“If it doesn’t look right, if it doesn’t smell right, err on the side of caution and stay out,” Starr said. 

Starr recommends looking out for water with a greenish color, or a smell comparable to sewage. 

Officials with Blue Cross for Pets say some symptoms pets could have from blue-green algae include vomiting, confusion, weakness, drooling and trouble with breathing.  

If you believe you’re pet may be poisoned, contact your vet immediately. 

According to Blue Cross for Pets, there’s no antidote for toxins, but if caught early enough, a vet may try to make a dog sick and attempt to flush out the toxins before they take hold. 

You can also check on water conditions around North Carolina through Sound Rivers’ Swim Guide by clicking here

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