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Warning to dog owners over algae in water which can prove fatal to pets

Grand Tour of the Outer Hebrides
Luskentyre beach, Isle of Harris.

Pet owners are being urged to take extra precautions when walking their dogs in areas with water that may have toxic algae.

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued the warning after a spike in reports of toxic blue green algae in several locations across the UK – including a number in the Highlands and islands.

Blue green algae or cyanobacteria are a group of bacteria that can contain dangerous toxins which can be harmful and even fatal to our pets, livestock and birds if ingested even in small quantities.

The Highlands and islands have had reports of algae during the summer months, the most recent at Seilebost Sands in Harris.

The warning comes after a British Bulldog died in the Lake District.

Blue green algae blooms may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water.

Dogs can swallow it by drinking water from an affected lake, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim.

British Veterinary Association President Daniella Dos Santos said: “We are hearing of increasing numbers of blue green algae sightings across the UK during this warm summer.

“We’d urge pet owners to keep their dog on a lead during walks near water confirmed to have toxic algal blooms. While not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually, so it is better to be safe than sorry.”

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