Vets warn dog walkers of dangers of toxic blue-green algae in Milton Keynes and elsewhere

Dog walkers have been warned to be on the alert for blue-green algae that blooms in MK lakes and rivers at this time of year.

By Sally Murrer
Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 11:13 am
Blue-green Algae can form on water in hot weather
Blue-green Algae can form on water in hot weather

The algae can be fatal to dogs and it can cause skin rashes, sickness, stomach pains, fever and headaches in humans.

Signs that a dog has ingested it include vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, weakness, disorientation, drooling and breathing difficulties.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued its annual warning to pet owners to take extra precautions when walking dogs around freshwater bodies, as warm weather conditions bring increased risk of toxic blue green algae growth over the coming months.

They say dogs should not be allowed to drink from or swim in water where there is suspected blue-green algae blooms.

Though called algae, the blooms actually consist of a group of bacteria called cyanobacteria, which are organisms that clump together in bodies of water to give the appearance of algae.

This type of bacteria is always present in water bodies in low quantities but only becomes problematic when it blooms and clumps together in large areas. When this happens, you can see a blue-green scum that appears on the surface of the water or you’ll be able to see green flakes, greenish bundles or brown dots on the water.

A spokesman for MK’s Parks Trust said: Blooms mostly happen in non-flowing fresh water during hot weather and when there is not a lot of rain, that’s why we see outbreaks at our lakes, but these blooms can also occur at other times of the year.

The spokesman added: “We monitor the lakes within our care for blue-green algae particularly where people are licensed to go on or in the water such as Willen Lake or Caldecotte Lake. If we suspect there is a bloom in a certain location, we will attempt to put signage in place, but this can’t always be done due to the sheer volume of water bodies we manage. Blooms can also appear and then disappear in a 24-hour period.

“If you think you have spotted blue-green algae in the water and can’t see any signage already in place, please report this to us on [email protected]