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Swimming: watch out for cyanobacteria!

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Swimming: watch out for cyanobacteria!

When summer comes and its hot weather, we like to take our dog to bathe in various water points and rivers … Do you know the cyanobacteria that inhabit certain bodies of standing water? They can represent a danger for your animal (as for you besides). Here's everything you need to know…

Cyanobacteria: what are they?

These are microscopic living things that have the characteristics of bacteria: a cell without a nucleus, and that are capable of photosynthesis (like plants).

They have long been assimilated to algae, they were called blue algae.

They are found in all environments, even the most extreme, suspended in water, on the surface or fixed on submerged plants (algae) or on stones, rocks, etc. They multiply in calm waters ( stagnant) and relatively hot (over 15 ° C), rich in phosphorus and nitrogen (often due to poorly treated wastewater, manure, fertilizer, etc.).

They participate in particular in the self-purification of waterways and are capable of synthesizing many useful or harmful chemical molecules, such as cyanotoxins.

Cyanobacteria: what is the danger?

Between 2002 and 2011, there were several deaths of dogs who had bathed in the Tarn because of cyanobacteria: they had in fact ingested flocs (algae clumps, biofilm and cyanobacteria on the surface of the water).

The danger is therefore linked to toxins secreted by cyanobacteria and the dog risks becoming poisoned by drinking water from rivers or bodies of water, eating algae on the surface, playing with sticks that have been soaked in river water, etc.

The mechanism of toxin production is not well known, so it is impossible to say according to the appearance of a body of water or a river, even if we notice a kind of green / bluish powder on the surface or not, whether there is danger or not…

The signs of cyanotoxin poisoning are:

  • tremors
  • anxiety
  • loss of equilibrium
  • nausea, vomiting

So be very careful: do not let your dog drink stagnant water especially if you observe efflorescence on the surface (green film like pea puree), or put sticks, pebbles in his mouth … At the slightest sign n ' do not hesitate to consult your attending veterinarian.

Good to know : cyanobacteria should not be confused with green algae, which can also be dangerous for animals and humans!

Green algae in the sea are not dangerous, it is when the sea deposits them on the beach and they dry that the danger is present. Bacteria then transform the sulfates into hydrogen sulfide, the gas accumulates under an “algae crust” and if you step on it, then the gas is released and it can be fatal (irritation of the respiratory mucosa, eye, lung edema…).

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