The recent news that a dog has died in a suspected case of blue-green algal or cyanobacterial poisoning at the Tukituki River, in Hawkes Bay, is a salutary reminder that we need to be vigilant around our waterways. Our river areas are popular places to exercise dogs especially in the recent seasonal warm weather.
But it is a sad consequence of the warm weather that algal blooms become more likely.
In the height of summer, toxic blue-green algae ‘mats’ dry out at the side of rivers as the water flows reduce. The toxin forming blue-green algae naturally occur in all rivers, stream and lakes. The warm summer weather coupled with low river flows increase blue-green algal growth, often making water unsafe
Keep your dogs under control, perhaps on a retractable leash, and take your own supply of fresh water for them to drink.
Not all algae are toxic but blue-green algae, known as cyanobacteria, can be, even when dry. Dogs are particularly susceptible to the toxins compared to other stock.
The algal mats should not be touched, avoid swimming where mats are present. They vary in colour from brown/black when in the water to a pale brown/whitish colour when dry, and are identifiable by a strong musty smell which dogs naturally want to investigate.
The main symptoms of poisoning are gastro-intestinal, such as vomiting, diarrhoea with blood, or neurological, such as inability of the dog to use their back legs and shaking, Any dogs that appear unwell or are sick after being in or alongside a river should get prompt veterinary attention. So do enjoy our beautiful water ways and our glorious summer weather , but take care and be vigilant.
Cautionary note — re Parvovirus — unfortunately there have been several confirmed cases of Parvovirus in Ōtaki this month. Please check that your dog’s vaccinations are up to date. Unvaccinated puppies are at particular risk of infection.
Otaki Veterinary Centre
269 Mill Road, Otaki 06 364 6941
Angela Ford BVM&S MRCVS MACVSc Emma & Jen — Veterinary nurses
Mobile Vet service — we come to you 24 Hrs advice and emergency service — Ring 364 6941 Microchips scanned at no cost and replaced for free if required