Now that it’s the dog days of summer, many dog owners look to ponds and lakes as convenient places to let their dogs cool off. But, unfortunately, as the news suggests, this may pose a health risk for your dog. Four dogs in the Southeast (three in North Carolina, one in Georgia) have died due to liver failure, most likely from ingesting water contaminated with toxic blue-green algae. The algae, also known as cyanobacteria, grow quickly in water bodies due to photosynthesis, but in addition to releasing oxygen, they also release toxic compounds.
Although the dogs in the recent news reports all died in the same general area, algal blooms can occur during warm months in any freshwater body in the country. In addition, they can also arise in decorative ponds or backyard pools, so living in the Northeast does not make our dogs safer than dogs from the South. One scientific study identified 368 cases of dog poisoning from hazardous algal blooms (HABs) across the United States. Although the cases occurred over a nine-decade period, researchers believe this may be a small fraction of the actual cases that occur, because dog owners often do not know the cause of their dog’s declining health.
The US EPA recommends not letting your dog swim in any water that has a strange color, is murky, or has a strong odor. And if you think your dog has come into contact with an HAB after swimming in a pond or lake, get the dog rinsed off with fresh, potable water as quickly as possible and do not let the dog lick contaminated water off his fur. Symptoms can arise as quickly as 15 minutes after exposure, and include vomiting or diarrhea, weakness/staggering, drooling and difficulty breathing, as well as convulsions or seizures. If you see symptoms this serious, please take your dog to his veterinarian immediately.
On a lighter note, we’d like to talk about Regan, our 6-year-old puggle, (pug-beagle cross) currently living in a local foster home. Regan is an energetic, fun-loving guy who has been having a great time with his foster mom and his foster brother, a German shepherd. The family cat is another matter entirely, but he is learning to give her space. He plays fetch and loves to sit beside someone while chewing on a tennis ball. He even has a great parlor trick in which he carries two tennis balls in his mouth at the same time! He loves to play with sticks, too—the bigger the better. He bonds to his new humans very quickly, and he is very affectionate. We are working on leash manners, as Regan tends to pull while walking. He can also be protective of his toys if other dogs are present, but he is quickly learning the “out” and “leave it” commands, which are useful not only for dealing with toys, but with other attractive nuisances (did we mention the cat?). He is neutered, up to date on vaccines, and house trained. He is a smart, eager-to-please dog who would fit in with any family looking for an energetic companion. Another plus is he doesn’t howl! He can be seen by appointment. If you think Regan is perfect for your active family, call us at 508-548-7742 to set up a time to meet him.
For the month of August, each time a $2.50 reusable GIVE BACK WHERE IT COUNTS Bag is purchased at the Shaw’s in East Falmouth, Teaticket Highway, $1 will be donated to FFD, unless otherwise directed by the customer through the Giving Tag. This is a great way to raise awareness, support the environment and fundraise for our cause. To learn more about this program, visit shaws.bags4mycause.com.
FFD is at 150 Blacksmith Shop Road, Falmouth. We are open to the public Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM to noon, Monday and Thursday afternoons, 4 to 6 PM, and Sundays, 3 to 5 PM. We can be reached at 508-548-7742. Visit friendsoffalmouthdogs.org.