Photo by Santiago Mejia for The Chronicle via SFGate

Many Dogs are Ingesting Toxins from Blue-Green Algae in the Water and Dying

Bay Area residents were warned to stay away from ponds, rivers, and streams in southern Napa County.

Two dogs died after swimming in a Huichica Creek pond filled with toxic blue-green algae years ago. And the deaths continue this summer too.

SFGate noted that was the second report of toxic algae in the Bay Area in a week in recreational bodies of water. The latest report of algae in the pond where the dogs died comes on the heels of an algae bloom in Oakland's Lake Temescal.

This may be old news but it's still 'new' news as these deaths occur every summer.

What is blue-green algae?

According to public health officials, these toxic algal blooms happen when nutrient-rich water sits or only moves very slowly. Boiling, filtering, and purifying methods do not render toxic algae-filled water ever safe to drink. reports that blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, turn lakes a distinctive hue when conditions are right for the growth of algal blooms. In addition to producing a thick mat of green scum and an offensive smell, sometimes blue-green algae also produce microcystins, toxins that can be deadly to dogs, livestock and other animals within hours of contact.

The toxins cause a range of symptoms

Algae poisoning can cause great damage to the liver, kidney, and nervous system in humans who swallow affected water. It can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea, difficulty breathing, angry skin rashes and other allergic reactions. Ingestion of toxic algae requires immediate medical attention.

How are dogs exposed to the toxin?

A report detailed how the researchers believed the dogs were exposed to the toxins:

  • Inhalation - 13%
  • Ingestion - 9%
  • Skin contact plus ingestion (swimming, with swallowing water or licking fur) - 54%
  • Unknown - 24%

There have been notable, harmful blue-green algal blooms in Lake Champlain, and other bodies of water from New York to Vermont, Wisconsin, Kansas, California and these recent ones in Minnesota.

These toxic blooms are extremely dangerous and dog owners need to be aware of what they're dealing with when they see this pea soup. Most cities will cite when the water quality is an issue and these harmful water conditions are a problem for our dogs. As soon as the warm weather starts the department of health warns pet owners immediately.

Have you ever had blue-green algae blooms near you? Let us know in the comments section below.

WATCH NOW; People Are Poisoning Dogs