ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) confirmed Monday that it was blue-green algae toxins that resulted in the death of a Douglas County dog last week. The death was reported to Douglas County Sheriff's deputies last Thursday.
Steven Heiskary, a research scientist at the MPCA, confirmed that the toxins killed the canine. In 2014, the MPCA received reports of three dog deaths due to blue-green algae toxins. One of the toxins attacks the liver while the other attacks the brain.
"The danger here is that both of these toxins are very dangerous," said Dr. Ahna Brutlag, Associate Director of Veterinary Services at Pet Poison Hot Line. "So, it does not take an ingestion of very much water with blue-green algae in it to potentially be fatal to an animal or certainly to cause very significant sickness."
"Blue-green blooms are common in Minnesota," said Heiskary. "We cannot predict exactly which ones are toxic and which ones are not. As for the actual dog deaths, these are not real common."
Both Brutlag and Heiskary said the best way for owners to prevent danger from the toxins to their pets is to keep them out of water with blue-green algae. Typically, the water takes on a pea-soup green color and is no longer clear.
"Keep the pets out. Keep the kids out, just under those kinds of conditions," said Heiskary.
Brutlag pointed out that time is critical when a dog becomes ill after drinking or swimming in water with the algae. Pet owners can contact the Pet Poison Helpline at www.petpoisonhelpline.com or 1-800-213-6680 or rush the pet to a veterinary clinic immediately, day or night.