A number of dogs have tragically died after being exposed to toxic blue-green algae while swimming in lakes and other bodies of water around the country. Here’s a list of where these deaths have occurred in the summer of 2019. Please note that not every case below has been officially confirmed by state officials. However, it would be wise to be cautious in those and other areas. Many dogs only need a few minutes of exposure to have fatal reactions.
Three Dogs Died in Austin, Texas
The first dogs that were reported to have died were in Austin, Texas after swimming at the popular Lady Bird Lake. The popular waterfront dog park Red Bud Isle was closed after 40 percent of its surface was found to be covered in blue-green algae. Officials said the algae seems to be concentrated around Red Bud Isle, but may be found in other parts of Lady Bird Lake.
The City of Austin asked residents to prevent pets from swimming or drinking at Lady Bird Lake until further notice, and to limit their own direct contact with the water or algae.
You can see a map of where Red Bud Isle is located below.
In Austin, the algae appears to be growing at the bottom of the lake and floating in clumps to the surface. The city said it’s prevalent near Red Bud Isle, and is also more abundant near shorelines and in areas with low water flow. “The situation is evolving,” the city noted. The city said that Austin’s water supply was not affected.
Three Dogs Died After Swimming in a Pond in Wilmington, North Carolina
Three dogs died in August after swimming in a pond in Wilmington, North Carolina, WRAL reported. Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz had taken their dogs for a swim and one started having a seizure 15 minutes after leaving the water. All three dogs had died by midnight. The veterinarian said they died from exposure to blue-green algae in the pond. The pond was near midtown Wilmington at the large retention pond on Independence Blvd. between 17th St. Ext. and Shipyard Boulevard, east of the Cameron Art Museum, shared one person on Facebook.
The map below may not be exactly where the pond was, but it is close:
The pond didn’t have any warning signs, Martin said. Despite reports that blue-green algae can be easy to spot in most places, she said the water looked clear except for what appeared to be debris from foliage.
Now she’s turned her heartbreak into a push to educate others. A GoFundMe has been started to help her share awareness of what happened. So far more than $4,300 has been raised.
North Carolina provides an interactive algae bloom map to show where algal blooms have currently been spotted. Red dots indicate Cyanobacterial blooms, which are blue-green algae.
The map is embedded above, but you can visit here to enter your address and see how close you are to algae bloom sightings.
Another Dog Owner Said Her Dog Died After Swimming at a Lake in Georgia
On Facebook, Morgan Fleming shared a heartbreaking story of how her dog passed away about 30 minutes after swimming in a lake in Georgia.
Fleming wrote, in part: “We took our sweet Arya to the lake and had the best day playing ball and swimming around! About 30 minutes later on the drive home, we noticed her making weird noises and she threw up and pooped in the car. We called our vet on the drive and they suggested we take her in. By this point our girl couldn’t even stand… They told us she was in critical condition so we took her to the ER. By the time we got there, she was brain dead… Today was absolutely awful. We lost our fun, loving, and crazy girl to what we can only assume was a lake toxin such as blue green algae. Arya, no dog will ever replace you in our hearts. We already miss you more than you could know.”
The heartbreaking death happened at Lake Allatoona in Bartow County, Georgia, WCNC shared.
A Woman in Maine Said Her Dog Started Seizing after Swimming in a Pond
The New Barker shared on Facebook that a woman in Maine told them that her dog started seizing after swimming in a pond recently. Exactly where she was located is not known.
The New Barker noted that harmful algae levels have been found in New York, Vermont, Wisconsin, Kansas, California, Florida, and Minesota, even if reports of sick dogs haven’t surfaced from those areas.
A Dog Died in Minnesota
In July, a dog died after swimming in Rochester, Minnesota’s Foster-Arend Pond, Valley News Live shared. A health advisory was issued for the possible green-algae exposure.
Patch.com reported that Minnesota’s Pollution Control Agency issued the following warning in July:
The MPCA recently received a report of a suspected dog death as a result of exposure to blue-green algae. Although the Department of Health has not confirmed the cause of death, if you are a dog owner, it better to be safe than sorry. Be sure to check water conditions when your dog is playing near lakes or slow-flowing streams.”
In 2016, a dog died after swimming in blue-algae waters in Minnesota, MNN shared. This happened on Prairie Lake in Minnesota. Cooper, a Labrador, ran into the water to get a tennis ball. Brock Tatge said the water had a green slime floating on top and the veterinarian thought he died from exposure to blue-green algae. This wasn’t the first time this had happened in Minnesota. MNN shared that in 2015, a springer spaniel was the 18th dog to die from blue-green algae poisoning. That time it was from the Lake of the Woods.
A Dog Owner Said Her Dog Died after Swimming in a Dog Park in Oregon
In July, Tammmi Press Stuehler shared that her dog, Cash, died from exposure to a blue-green algae bloom in Oregon. This exposure occurred at the Keizer Rapids Dog Park along the Willamette River, she said.
A Dog Died in Virginia from a Different Water Infection
An alert reader let Heavy know about another heartbreaking dog death, this time in Virginia.
Brad Perreault said his dog died in Virginia after swimming in the Rivanna River. He died of leptospirosis within a week of the swim, NBC 29 reported. Gunner was a three-year-old German Shepherd, and vets concluded the bacteria came from Rivanna River. They started kayaking at Darden, then went to Riverview, and ended in Milton.
Gunner was swimming in the Rivanna River in Albermarle County, Virginia, Our Community Now reported. Daily Progress noted that if dogs spend a lot of time near rivers, larkes, or farms, their owners might want to get them vaccinated against the bacteria. It’s not 100 percent effective, however.
Although this is not blue-green algae, it’s still deadly and dog owners should be warned. The bacteria is transmitted in urine and can be transferred to humans, Perrault said.
There Are More Cases of Toxic Algae Around the Country
Rhode Island also found toxic levels of blue-green algae in seven lakes and ponds.
Unfortunately, many states and bodies of water beyond just the ones listed above may have blue-green algae. See Heavy’s story here for the signs of blue-green algae and a test you can do yourself to help detect it.
If you know of other areas where dogs died from exposure to blue-green algae this summer, please tweet the author of this article.