While we may be smart enough to steer clear of any surface scums or heavily discolored water, our pets or livestock may not. The New York Department of Environmental Conservation is warning residents about the extreme risk to animal coming in contact with harmful algal blooms (HABs).

Dogs can be especially at risk when swimming in water containing HABs. They can stick to an animals fur and then get ingested when the animal grooms itself.  HABs may release a fast-acting nerve toxin that can be dangerous. Animals usually show signs of distress within 30 minutes to a few hours later. Signs to be aware of include:

• Stumbling, seizures, convulsions, paralysis
• Excessive salivation or drooling
• Disorientation, inactivity or depression
• Elevated heart rate, and difficulty breathing

If you see symptoms, get veterinary assistance as soon as possible. Even animals not showing any signs of distress should be rinsed with clean water immediately after coming into contact.  Here are some photos of HABS look like.

More information on identifying HABS is available at the DEC's website. The state depends on local residents to report seeing the blooms on bodies of water. Here's where to report suspicious blooms and a map indicating where HABS have been confirmed around the state.

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