Toxic algae is a danger to dogs
The water may be the most dangerous thing your dog encounters this summer.
Sunblock, iceblocks and water are all part of the great New Zealand summer - particularly when you have a dog in the family.
However, senior veterinarian and owner of Rappaw Veterinary Clinics, Dr Ian Schraa, said of all the summer dangers faced by Wellington dogs the water was the worst.
‘‘Toxic algae in the water will kill your dog and the Waikanae, Kaitoke, Otaki and Hutt Rivers are all bad ones.
‘‘A dog will only live 15 to 30 minutes after drinking it - it’s a neuro toxin and there’s no room for error.’’
Schraa said at least a couple of dogs died every summer in Wellington after swimming in or drinking algae-infested water.
‘‘Normally it’s the after hours vets who try to treat them, but it’s usually too late to help.’’
Signs a dog has been poisoned include lethargy, muscle tremors, fast breathing, twitching, paralysis and convulsions.
Greater Wellington Regional Council monitors toxic algae growth around the region every week during the summer, and results and latest warnings can be found at mapping.gw.govt.nz.
It also posts information signs at access points along the rivers and waterways to let people know whether it’s safe to swim.
Other information about toxic algae, including a guide of what to look for and what to do if you are worried about possible contact with toxic algae can be found at gw.govt.nz/is-it-safeto-swim.
KEEP YOUR DOG SAFE How to spot toxic algae:
Toxic algae forms leathery looking brown/ black or very dark green mats on rocks in the riverbed.
These mats can come loose and wash up on the rivers’ edge, or form ‘floating rafts’ in shallow areas.
As the mats dry out they turn light brown and produce a distinctive musty smell.
Avoid coming into contact with it. Most importantly, keep an eye on small children and dogs and make sure they don’t try to eat it.
Greater Wellington Regional Council recommend putting your
If you spot it:
dog on a lead to be safe.
Take your dog to a vet immediately.
If your dog eats it:
Toxic algae can affect humans as well. If you experience any change in
symptoms after being in contact with toxic algae, contact your family doctor.