Dog owners beware! Algae in lakes and ponds can be toxic!! It clings to your pet’s fur and as they normally do, they will lick it off when they get out of the water.   The bacteria that are lurking, microcystin can be the source of liver failure. Almost 100 dogs were reported to have died between 2002 and 2012, sea otters fell ill in 2010, and humans are not immune.

Microcystin is thought to be the result of organic chemical runoff, like fertilizers, into lakes, and according to the EPA, one of three US lakes has the toxin. Unfortunately, there is not a lot of information for veterinarians to access. The largest information source is the CDC Harmful Algal Bloom–Related Illness Surveillance System (HABISS) and that list is sorely lacking. It only lists 13 states.

The good news is that an old drug, Cholestyramine, once used to treat high cholesterol, is used to help clear the toxin. Still, there is no immediate test for the toxin and time is of the essence.

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