INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indiana Department of Environmental Management is warning pet owners after finding high levels of blue-green algae in several lakes.
Four dogs have died after being exposed to the algae all in the southeastern part of the country, but officials said it could happen here too.
Drinking water contaminated with the algae can be harmful to any animal. Though not as severe or as likely, it can also be dangerous for people.
That’s why IDEM suggests showering with warm and soapy water after going in any lake or pond.
According to IDEM, the algae sometimes forms a mat on top of the water, but it’s not always easily detectable without testing.
If the mat has a blue-green coloring or looks bright green, then it could be blue-green algae. In that case, IDEM said don’t let your pets in at all.
If you think your pet may have drunk some of the water, it’s best to get them to a vet or animal ER as soon as possible. Some animals can die between 15 and 30 minutes after clinical signs start to appear. Others may not show signs for a couple of days.
Director of communications for Noah’s Animal Hospitals Tom Dock said some symptoms are vomiting, diarrhea, weakness or muscle tremors.
He added a dog doesn’t have to drink the water to be affected, sometimes just licking its coat after swimming in it could get them sick.
“There’s not an antidote to this toxin and I think that’s important to note but if you get your pet in, you get them on hospitalization, it might have a chance. I think it’s important for people to know that this is an urgent situation don’t wait around, don’t google and don’t ask your friends on Facebook,” said Dock.
Testing is done once a month during the swimming season which is Memorial Day through Labor Day.
You can find a list of all of the waterways IDEM samples as well as ones contaminated here.