Pup owners, beware! A toxic algae has been found in the waters of several NYC parks, and it can be fatal for dogs.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, “harmful algal blooms” (HABs) have been found at the Prospect Park Lake, Central Park’s Turtle Pond, The Lake in Central Park, Harlem Meer, and Morningside Pond. So what exactly are HABs? When temperatures rise and days get longer, more algae comes to life in our waters. While most are harmless, there are certain species that can be dangerous—including blue-green algae (BGA).
BGA is is actually cyanobacteria, and not algae at all but looks very similar. That said, these toxic substances can make humans sick and be lethal for animals. So much so that three pups in the U.S. have died just this month due to the poisonous substance. Officials warn that the algal blooms can have the appearance of “spilled green paint.”
To keep your dog safe, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has put out a guide on how to “Protect Your Pooch” stating that you should first spot the algae and not let your dog drink or swim in water if:
- It’s slimy or looks like foam, scum or mats on the surface of the water.
- The color is weird. Harmful algal blooms can be blue, bright green, brown or red and may look like paint floating on the water.
- It stinks. Some (but not all) harmful algae produce a nauseating smell.
It then goes on to explain that if your pet is exposed to HAB (or if you think they’ve been) you should:
- Rinse him or her off immediately. Wear gloves to protect yourself and give your dog a thorough rinse in clean, fresh water.
- Watch for symptoms. Symptoms can arise anywhere from 15 minutes to several days after exposure. Take pets to the vet immediately if they suffer from:
- Diarrhea or vommiting
- Weakness or staggering
- Drooling, difficulty breathing or convulsions
- Report the bloom to your state’s health department.
Dogs can get sick from even one lick of the water so you should be careful around any body of water (even if it gets on their paws or fur). To be safe, you probably shouldn’t let your dog drink or swim in any of the city’s lakes or pond. However, you can track the parks reported with the toxic algae through the Department of Environmental Conservation’s New York map, here.
Featured image source: NYHABS
Also published on Medium.