Recent blooms of blue-green algae in local rivers, which is often fatal to dogs, have prompted a warning to dog owners from a local veterinary practice.
Otter Vets, which has practices in Sidmouth and Ottery St Mary, has warned dog walkers to keep their dogs from entering the River Otter due to harmful toxins released by blue-green algae.
At times of drought bacteria in local waterways multiply causing the bacteria to clump, giving the appearance of algae.
These blooms of blue-green algae create toxins which can damage a dog’s liver, preventing it from functioning properly.
A spokesperson for Otter Vets said: “It can be very difficult to tell where blue-green algae is blooming. Therefore advice is to keep dogs out of the water!
“Sadly, exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal, and can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water. Some types of blue-green algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water.
“Dogs who have been swimming in water can get the algae caught in their fur, and can ingest it while cleaning themselves later on. Cats are also at risk.”
The bacteria can also cause rashes, sickness, stomach pains, fever and headaches in humans.
Children are reportedly at greater risk than adults. The advice to humans and pets is stay out of the water at this time.
Symptoms of blue-green algae exposure