Question: Kip, my retriever mix, loves to swim in a nearby lake, but the water recently turned green. Is it safe for him to swim?
Answer: I recommend you keep Kip from drinking or swimming in green water; the color may mean it’s contaminated with blue-green algae called cyanobacteria. Some species of cyanobacteria produce toxins that can sicken or kill animals and humans. Cyanobacteria live in both salt and fresh water and thrive in warm, calm water. When an animal ingests contaminated water, algae, or fish, toxins are released and quickly absorbed and circulated throughout the body, causing liver damage and neurotoxicity. Clinical signs can begin within minutes and include diarrhea, weakness, muscle tremors, paralysis, and seizures. Death can occur within a few hours.
This article is featured in the September/October 2020 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.
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