Blue-green algae poses a threat to wildlife and pets

RESCUE: Wildlife carer and expert Kathy Campbell rescuing the sick swan from the Crusoe Reservoir. Picture: SUPPLIED.
RESCUE: Wildlife carer and expert Kathy Campbell rescuing the sick swan from the Crusoe Reservoir. Picture: SUPPLIED.

A Bendigo vet is warning pet owners of the danger that blue-green algae poses to animals after the death of a swan at Cruesoe Reservoir and another bird at Kennington Reserve.

Dr Jack Lang veterinary director at Greencross Vets in Kangaroo Flat and White Hills had to unfortunately euthanase the swan because of a condition possibly related to blue-green algae exposure.

“The algae can make them unwell because it affects their liver, it damages their liver, you can get weakness and loss of conditions purely because the bird is unwell, it can cause neurological signs as well,” he said.

“The algae tends to bloom in warmer weather and when the water is nutrient rich, so basically warmer water makes it more likely to proliferate and any animal that is drinking or swimming in the water is able to ingest it.”

“Some types of algae are more toxic than others and so if it’s particularly toxic they don’t have to ingest very much of it to cause a problem,” he said.

Dr Lang recommends that pet owners, especially canine owners to completely avoid areas and waterways around the Bendigo area where there is an obvious algal bloom.

“They do test waterways so usually there is some advice on the likelihood of blue-green algae in the most popular waterways, so definitely take this advice.”

“We don’t have an antidote for it, if they become unwell after being in waterways all we can do is provide supportive care such as intravenous fluids and hospitalization to try and get the toxin out of the body.”

Dr Lang’s research indicates that dogs are more prone to the neurological symptoms of algae exposure.

“Don’t take your dogs to waterways where there is blue-green algae.”

“If you have a dog that does a lot of swimming and drinking while it’s in the waterway, obviously its exposure can be quite high. The higher the exposure the more chance they will receive symptoms,” he said.

Symptoms from algae exposure may include being visually “unwell” and showing signs of “lethargy” which may cause them to “turn off their food”.

If you see wildlife or your pet shows symptoms of algae exposure after swimming in waterways please seek immediate emergency veterinary advice.