Harmful algae blooms, which can be blue, vibrant green, brown or red, are sometimes mistaken for paint floating on the water. But they have also been warning people to protect their pets and animals from the blooms.
So what is making this toxic algae bloom to such a degree? "In people and animals these can manifest very similarly", said Nick Tomaro, Milwaukee Public Health Emergency Response Planning Coordinator.
"While most blue-green algae blooms do not produce toxins, it is not possible to determine the presence of toxins without testing", the helpline adds. Signs include vomiting, seizures, diarrhea and shock.
"If they get a high enough dose, it can kill them unfortunately", said Gina LaLiberte, Harmful Algal Bloom Coordinator for the Wisconsin DNR.
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Some algal blooms leave a film of muck on the surface and make the water ruddy, but others are hard to immediately detect, such as the blooms in the pond where Martin's dogs were exposed. The toxic algae is usually blue, green, brown, or red, with a slimy texture and often a terrible smell, the EPA noted. Their Facebook post has now been shared at least 26,000 times.
What began as a typical puppy playdate between 3 dogs turned deadly this weekend after an encounter with blue-green algae. "He came onto the floor and he was trying to wrap his paw around my arm and I just told him what a good boy he was and how he had done so much and we weren't going to let this happen for nothing". And though the effects of climate change on algae populations and other disease-causing things like ticks are complex, it's likely that warmer temperatures have contributed to a growing increase and potency of algae blooms in recent years.
The pair arrived at the Lort Smith clinic in April after swimming in a pond on their property which has been contaminated by blue-green algae, vets told Australian dog ownership website Australian Dog Lover.
Tomaro says in the future they'll look into testing other areas of Milwaukee.
The risk of algae poisoning is also a concern at Australian lakes and ponds, with pet owners also urged to watch out for dangers here, too. If you see any scum or algae on the rocks, avoid letting your pet swim.