Tip Sheets

Tips for protecting pets, livestock from deadly blue-green algae

Media Contact

Lindsey Knewstub

Blue-green algae is returning to New York waterways and poses a deadly risk to humans as well as animals. Karyn Bischoff, toxicologist at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, explains the dangers and advises livestock and pet owners to be vigilant in avoiding contaminated areas.

Karyn Bischoff

Senior Extension Associate in the Department of Population Medicine and Diagnostic Sciences

Bischoff partnered with New York Sea Grant to create a guide for pet owners on how to spot contaminated waters, how to report blooms to officials and what to do if your dog comes in contact: http://www.seagrant.sunysb.edu/btide/pdfs/HABsBrochure-0814.pdf

Bischoff says:

“Prevention is the best protection for animals. Do everything you can to stop them from accessing contaminated water.

“The most severe effects of Harmful Algae Blooms, including blue-green algae, are from ingestion, which can occur through drinking contaminated water or from grooming it off their coats. If your livestock or pet touches contaminated water, even a small amount, immediately rinse thoroughly with fresh water. Doing this quickly can be life-saving. After rinsing the animal well, contact your veterinarian immediately. Time is of the essence in these cases.

“Clinical signs of Harmful Algae Blooms poisoning depend on the toxins present and the amount ingested. Small ingestions can cause severe clinical signs; large ingestions can be rapidly lethal. Neurotoxins can cause immediate effects, including drooling, tremors, and seizures; hepatotoxins can destroy the liver and cause rapid death from shock.”

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