MPCA Advises Dog Owners to be Cautious of Algae-Laden Waters

Updated: 06/26/2014 5:24 PM
Created: 06/26/2014 12:37 PM
By: McKenzie Gernes

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is advising people to be cautious about allowing their dogs in lakes and slow-flowing streams after a dog died last weekend after swimming in a Sherburne County lake.

Brock Tatge and his family were on Prairie Lake playing fetch with their dog and throwing the ball in the water for him when he became ill. "We noticed that Cooper went on shore, began vomiting and panting very hard, and just looked very sick," Tatge said.

The cause of the illness has not been confirmed, but the veterinarian who examined the dog believes he became ill after ingesting toxins from blue-green algae.

The MPCA is advising pet owners to check water conditions where their dogs are playing. If possible, dog owners should keep their pets away from algae-laden water entirely. If animals do enter the water they should be hosed off right away.

The MPCA says if you are concerned your animal may have been exposed you should take your pet to the veterinarian immediately.

The blue-green algae "blooms" have a thick, cloudy appearance that can look like green paint, or pea soup. 

Some, but not all species of the blue-green algae contain potent toxins that can be deadly to dogs, livestock and other animals within hours of contact.

"This year's unusually high rainfall has carried tremendous amounts of nutrients into Minnesota lakes," said MPCA scientist Steve Heiskary. "If the rain slows down and we move into a period of hot, dry, summer weather, we could see an exceptional number of algae blooms across the state in coming weeks, even in lakes that do not normally experience them."

If humans are exposed to toxic blue-green algae, they can experience skin irritation, nausea, and eye, nose, and throat irritation. People should never swim in water if they suspect a blue-green algae bloom.

The Tatge family dog, Cooper, died after swimming in a lake with algae.
Photo courtesy of the Tatge Family
MPCA warns people of toxic blue-green algae.
Photo: Minnesota Pollution Control Agency

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