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Official Explains Dangers Of Blue-Green Algae To Pets, Humans

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Something about to bloom in Minnesota ponds and lakes could be harmful to your pets. Thanks to warm, wet weather, experts say blue-green algae season is right around the corner, and that can be deadly for pets.

"Typically, those blooms happen when the temperature of the water is about 75 degrees or above," said Dr. Claire Bleser, district administrator for Riley Purgatory Bluff Creek Watershed District.

It can also make humans sick.

"You could have diarrhea, you could start vomiting, not feeling well, for pets they might have problems breathing," Bleser said.

But for dogs like Copper, it can be deadly. He died five years ago after fetching a ball from an infested lake.

If you think you've spotted blue-green algae, there's a really easy way to find out. Grab a branch or use your paddle and dunk it in the water. If it comes out with stringy green algae on it, it's probably not blue-green algae. If you have blue-green algae on your stick, it would look like green paint stuck to the tree bark.

"Oftentimes, they'll look like pea soup or think about green paint," Bleser said.

The algae typically thrive in calm, shallow water and feed off nutrients from storm drain runoff, but many watershed districts treat their at-risk lakes.

"You don't want to accumulate that nutrient that makes our lakes unhealthy," Bleser said.

If you spot something that looks like blue-green algae or if you think your pet was exposed, call the health department.

But remember, not all algae is toxic. If you are worried about keeping your pets safe, there's a simple solution:

"When in doubt, keep your pets out," Bleser said.

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