Toxic al­gae is a dan­ger to dogs

Kapiti Observer - - WHAT’S ON -

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-safe-to-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 dog on a lead to be safe.

* Take your dog to a vet im­me­di­ately.

* 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.

If you spot it: If your dog eats it: Any con­cerns:

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