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Dog owners asked to be aware of toxic blue-green algae in Minnesota lakes

Updated: August 14, 2019 05:40 PM

Recently, dogs have died as a result from swimming in water containing blue-green algae. 

Lee Engel, Supervisor of Water Quality Monitoring Unit with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA), said every year during the mid-summer time, temperatures warm in lakes causing excess nutrient blooms. 

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"MPCA does record phone calls related to blooms annually and thus far we have recieved 11 phone calls," Engel said. "This is simply people who called for information or just wanted to tell us a bloom was occuring on a lake they visited."

The algae can resemble pea soup, green paint or floating mats of scum. It can also have a bad smell.

Minnesota researchers study shorter winter, toxic algae

Dogs are at more of a risk than humans as they are likely to wade in the areas of a lake where the algae accumulates. A dog recently died after exposure in Crawford Lake in Wright County. Another dog also became ill at Loon Lake near Waseca.

The Minnesota Department of Health has been tracking blue-green algae case in pets since 2013.

"Since that time we've had 11 dog-related illnesses reported to us," said Stephanie Gretsch, Epidemioligist with the Minnesota Department of Health. "Eight of those dogs did die and then three of them did recover... unfortunately when you find blue-green algae, it's impossible to know if its actually producing those toxins that can make us sick."

Dogs are typically exposed to larger amounts of toxins from algae because they tend to swallow more water than humans while swimming. They also lick their coats after leaving the water, swallowing any algae that be on their fur.

For more photos of the blue-green algae, click here. For more information on the algae, click here.

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