Pet owners across the north are being warned of increased reports of potentially toxic blue green algae appearing in waters.
There has been an increase in reports of algae appearances across the country, including recent warnings in the Western Isles and Elgin.
The rise in cases has prompted the British Veterinary Association (BVA) to urge pet owners to take extra precautions while walking their dogs in the vicinity of affected water bodies.
The warning also comes on the heels of tragic news from North Carolina in America on Monday where three dogs died just hours after swimming in an affected pond.
Blue green algae blooms may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water and can contain toxins that can be harmful for animals if ingested, even in small quantities.
Dogs, in particular, are prone to swallow the algae by drinking water from an affected loch, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim.
Symptoms of exposure can appear within a few minutes or hours, depending on the type of toxin ingested, and commonly include vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces.
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If left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be rapidly fatal.
The presence of algae has been reported at Coopers Park in Elgin and Loch Ordais in South Bragar, in the Western Isles.
BVA junior vice president Daniella Dos Santos said: “We know that some dogs enjoy nothing better than a paddle in a cool lake while on a walk during summer months, but my advice to pet owners would be to keep your 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.
“There is currently no known antidote for the toxins, so prompt veterinary treatment is essential to tackle their effects and ensure a good chance of recovery. If you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue green algae, rush it to your local vet without delay.”