How to Keep Your Dog Safe from Cyanobacteria in NH Waters

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When venturing out to swim with your dogs in New Hampshire’s waters this summer, it’s crucial to be aware of the risks posed by cyanobacteria blooms , commonly known as blue-green algae. These blooms are increasingly common in NH due to factors like nutrient pollution from stormwater runoff and changing climate conditions, which include warmer waters and altered rain patterns​.

Cyanobacteria are a natural part of aquatic ecosystems but can become dangerous when they multiply rapidly, forming blooms that may produce toxins harmful to humans, dogs, and other animals. Exposure to these toxins can be serious and potentially fatal, leading to symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and even liver failure or neurological damage in dogs​​.

Here are some practical tips for ensuring that both you and your pet stay safe while enjoying the water:

Check for Advisories

Before heading out, look up the current conditions of your local lakes and rivers. The NH Department of Environmental Services provides a useful tool for this, the Healthy Swimming Mapper, where you can find real-time updates on water quality advisories including those for cyanobacteria​.

Visual Inspection

Always inspect the water for signs of cyanobacteria blooms before allowing your dog to enter. These can appear as scum, have a paint-like surface, or look like pea soup. Even if there are no advisories posted, stay vigilant and avoid waters that look suspicious​​.

Avoid Contact

If there’s an ongoing advisory, it’s best to keep your pet out of the water. Cyanobacteria levels high enough to warrant a warning pose a significant health risk, and it’s recommended that you avoid any contact with the water during such times​​.

Post-Exposure Care

If you suspect that your dog has been in contact with contaminated water, rinse them off immediately with clean water and watch for any symptoms of distress. If symptoms like vomiting or weakness appear, contact your veterinarian right away​​.

Stay Informed

Sign up for email updates or alerts from local environmental agencies to stay informed about water conditions in your area. This can help you plan safe outings with your pet​​.

By following these guidelines, you can help ensure a fun and safe swimming season for you and your furry friend amidst the natural beauty of New Hampshire’s lakes and rivers.

Check Healthy Swimming Mapper for up-to-date info in your NH community.

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