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Canine Companion: Be Careful When You Let Your Dog Swim In Lake Erie

Hey, guys, have you heard about the bacteria in Lake Erie in the news? My family spends a lot of time there (until recently); playing in creeks leading to the lake, swimming at Presque Isle, near Erie, Pa.; and we always bring our dog because he absolutely loves to swim.

There’s something known as cyanobacteria in the water (AKA blue-green algae). Cyanobacteria are microscopic organisms that are found naturally on the surface of the water. Generally, this isn’t a problem because there’s often such a small amount of bacteria that it’s not something to worry about.

A problem arises when they multiply to dangerous levels. At high levels, algal blooms form and produce extremely dangerous toxins. Depending on how much water you swallowed, or even let into your body, the symptoms vary. But, the common symptoms of ingestion of blue-green algae include illness, irritation, or even death in dogs and humans.

The thresholds are lower for dogs because they often drink the water while they swim. I certainly know my dog does as he is splashing all over the place.

According to the Erie County Department of Health, the following are areas where it’s dangerous for dogs and potentially dangerous to the young, the elderly, and the ill (this is only for Erie; do your own research in your area to find out what’s dangerous, it’s extremely important). .

Areas: Erie Yacht Club, Presque Isle Vista 3 beach, Sturgeon Bay, Beach 6 (Zone 2) at Presque Isle, Niagara Boat Launch, Presque Isle Marina, Perry Monument, Beach 11 at Presque Isle, Horseshoe Pond, Walnut Creek, Avonia Beach, and Boater’s Beach.

There are areas that are definitely dangerous to humans (and dogs of course). These areas include: Beach 11 Presque Isle, Beach 9 Presque Isle, Mill Road beaches, Beach 8 Presque Isle, Beach 6 Presque Isle (and Presque Isle beaches 6 and 1), and Barracks Beach.

If your dog has ingested the toxin, the first symptoms you are likely to notice include vomiting, lethargic behavior, abnormal behavior, and/or trouble breathing. If you notice even one of these symptoms after going to the beach, I highly recommend contacting a veterinarian as soon as possible.

That’s all I have for you today. Please, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me.

Until next time.

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