BLUE-green algae can be “highly poisonous” and even fatal for dogs, a pet charity has warned.

The PDSA has issued advice on how to protect pets from the bacteria which can be found in lakes and streams.

It is most prevalent in still or stagnant water during summer.

PDSA vet nurse Nina Downing said: "Blue-green algae can grow in all aquatic environments, but it’s most prevalent in still or stagnant water during summer.

"This particular type of bacteria is highly poisonous to animals, and can sadly be fatal, or result in long-term health problems for those that survive. 

"Dogs are particularly at risk, as they are more likely to drink from ponds while out on a walk, or groom themselves after swimming in affected water. However – the more aware we are of the potential dangers, the better we can protect our precious four-legged friends."

The symptoms to look out for

Signs to look out for include:

  • Vomiting
  • Twitching
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhoea
  • Increased thirst
  • Drooling
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Collapse

Symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning can occur very quickly within 15 minutes to one hour of exposure.

A small amount can be lethal to a dog, so it’s important to act quickly and contact your vet immediately.

How to spot it

The PDSA says blue-green algae often appears as a green or blueish scum, but sometimes has a brown tinge and it’s seen on the water’s surface, it can sometimes clump up and the blooms can create foam on the shoreline.

There’s no way of telling if algae is toxic just by looking at it, and some types of blue-green algae are only dangerous at certain times of year, but always be cautious and don’t take any risks around it.

How to protect your pet

Dog owners are urged avoid any form of water that appears bright green in colour.

People should never let their dog drink from a pond or lake with dead fish or animals in either as the water could be dangerously toxic and make your pet extremely ill with potentially fatal consequences.  

The PDSA said: “Your local council will put up signposts in areas regularly affected by blue-green algae, so make sure you scan the surroundings for any indication of danger before letting your dog go for a swim.

Report and prevent it

The PDSA says if you spot blue-green algae but there are no signposts to warn dog owners, you should report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

They’ll test the water and put up signage in the surrounding area to warn owners and help prevent any potential future cases.