Let's Jump Right In.....Or NOT!

While it may be a little early in the year, it is never too early to be aware.

Where we live in Upstate New York toxic algae is rampant! Below is an excerpt from the Whole Dog Journal.

"The dangers of a “toxic bloom” of blue-green algae are well known in some states. According to a website published by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, certain environmental conditions that generally occur late in summer can trigger a sudden overgrowth of a certain family of algae called cyanobacteria. This type of algae occurs in many aquatic environments year-round, but may thrive to a dangerous degree during periods of sustained warm, sunny days in shallow, nutrient rich bodies of water. In these conditions, the blue-green algae suddenly “blooms” – that is, reproduces exponentially. The algae produce a powerful toxin – one of the most powerful natural poisons known.

Dog owners should be aware that toxic algae blooms usually occur in late summer or early fall, but can occur at any time. They can occur in marine, estuarine, and (especially) fresh water. The latter are of the greatest concern to dog owners, as dogs are commonly taken to ponds, lakes, and reservoirs in the summer for recreation, exercise, and cooling — and they routinely drink the water. Some of these algae blooms look like foam, scum, or mats on the surface of the water. The blooms can be blue, bright green, brown, or red (“red tide” is perhaps the best-known so-called “harmful algal bloom”) – but some blooms may not affect the appearance of the water. The water may or may not smell bad. As a further difficulty to dog owners trying to protect their dogs, not all algal blooms are toxic!

When an algal bloom is toxic, obviously, it can kill or seriously sicken an animal, sometimes as quickly as within 15 or 20 minutes of ingestion. The effects depend on the amount ingested, the size of the animal, the amount of food in the animal’s stomach (a full stomach has some protective effect), the sensitivity of the species and individual animal, and the amount of toxin present in the bloom."

In our area Ontario Beach in Charlotte was the seventh worst in the state in 2009. Durand Beach in Rochester and two swimming areas at Hamlin Beach State Park were near the top of the list in New York State for bacteria problems.

Call (585)-753-5887 in the Rochester area to hear Monroe County Health Department daily report on conditions at Durand and Ontario Beaches.

Although all blue green algae should be treated with suspicion, there are many strains and not all of them produce toxins. In the long run, it's better to err on the side of caution and keep your dog away from any water you have reason to believe is contaminated.

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