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Can swimming in the canal be harmful?

Blue-green algae poisoning can be fatal for dogs.

Charles Cosgrave, MD and veterinary surgeon at Village Vets has advised vigilance amongst pet owners and has recommended that animals be kept away from lakes or ponds that contain the bloom. Additionally, Village Vets has released a statement to the local population of pet owners.

Kerry County Council is scheduled to erect warning signs after toxic blue-green ‘algae’ has proliferated on the waters of Killarney’s largest lake and major tourist attraction; Lough Lein.

Village Vets are not aware of other specific bodies of water in Ireland that may be contaminated, but the heat and dry weather may have allowed more blue-green algae to bloom this year, with canals and lakes the most at risk areas”

“We advise owners who are worried about blue-green algae concentration in nearby canals, lakes and ponds to contact their local county council which may be able to provide advice on which water bodies may be contaminated”

“If your pet shows signs of poisoning, such as vomiting, diarrhoea, seizures, breathing trouble or disorientation, contact your vet immediately” according to Charles.

How can the health risks be minimised?
  • Not all blue-green algae blooms and scums are toxic but it is not possible to tell from appearance and so here are some precautions to take:
  • Do not swim in stagnant water.
  • Do not swallow stagnant water.
  • Avoid contact with blue-green algae.
  • Do not eat fish caught from the water
  • Observe and abide by any warning notices positioned around water.
  • Anyone who has come into contact with water containing blue-green algae to shower with fresh water immediately.
  • Anyone who comes into contact with affected water and becomes ill should obtain medical attention immediately.
Why is blue-green algae dangerous to dogs?

Some types of blue-green algae can kill a dog just 15 minutes to an hour after drinking contaminated water. Dogs can develop poisoning when they drink from such water, or lick themselves after swimming in it, and this in turn has a toxic effect on the stomach and internal organs - which could prove fatal.

Village Vets has warned dog owners against walking their pets near to bodies of water confirmed to have blue-green algae.

"Sadly, exposure to toxic blue-green algae is often fatal, and can also cause long term health problems in dogs that survive after drinking or swimming in algae-contaminated water"

For further inform please contact any of our Village Vets clinics.