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Three dogs in New Brunswick have died this summer after being exposed to blue-green algae.

Last year, blue-green algae was found in 246 water bodies in Canada, according to the University of Alberta. Currently, there are lakes under advisories all over Canada.

Dr. Rebecca Greenstein breaks down how to protect your dogs from being exposed, and what to do if they are.

WHAT IS BLUE-GREEN ALGAE?

Though blue-green algae may look like regular algae, it’s actually bacteria. It’s also referred to as cyanobacteria, or simply “blue-greens”, both names describe the colour of water harboring the bacteria. The cyanobacteria can form a scum that looks like pea soup or paint on the surface of water, and can eventually take over a body of water by blocking out sunlight for other aquatic plants. The scum that floats on top of the water is known as “blooms”. These blooms are usually enough of a deterrent to keep humans out of the water, but your furry friends won’t know any better.

If touched, humans are at risk of skin irritations like rashes or blisters. The same is true for pets, but if your dog licks himself clean or swallows the bacteria, it could be deadly.

SYMPTOMS TO WATCH FOR

  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bloody or black stool
  • Jaundice
  • Seizures
  • Disorientation

WHAT TO DO IF YOUR DOG IS EXPOSED

  1. Remove your pet from the water
  2. Hose them off
  3. Don’t allow them to lick or swallow the water
  4. Go to the vet as soon as possible