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Pets shouldn't drink tap water during West Palm Beach water advisory, veterinarian says

'[Pets] can be affected just like us,' Dr. Catherine Zellmer says
Dr. Catherine Zellmer with Big Dog Ranch Rescue speaks to WPTV on June 2, 2021.jpg
Posted at 12:50 PM, Jun 02, 2021

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — A Palm Beach County veterinarian is recommending that residents impacted by a major water advisory in West Palm Beach, South Palm Beach, and Palm Beach should not give their pets tap water.

"I would go ahead and be on the safe side, and I would actually give them bottled water," said Dr. Catherine Zellmer with Big Dog Ranch Rescue. "Our pets can be made sick by the same things that we're made sick by."


South Florida veterinarian talks about water advisory

Officials issued a drinking water advisory late Friday after elevated levels of a toxin produced by cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, were detected in some raw water samples.

Until further notice, vulnerable populations including the elderly, infants, children under six, pregnant women, nursing moms, and people with kidney or liver disease are urged not to drink tap water or cook with it.

Anyone not in the vulnerable populations can continue to use tap water, officials said.

Zellmer said not all home water filtration systems can filter out the cyanobacteria toxin. That's why pet owners should stick with bottled water only.

"As far as my personal experience, I would say [the toxic algae] is a little more on the extreme side," Zellmer said. "But we do see this type of toxicity in animals."

Pets who are exposed to the toxin may experience symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, lethargy, neurological issues, and tremors.

"They can be affected just like us," Zellmer said. "In this particular case, if you're worried at all because we do have this going on, your safest bet is gonna be to make an appointment and see your vet."

Zellmer added that your veterinarian can prescribe medication and put your pet on a bland diet to help them recover.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection in Tallahassee is currently testing water samples to see if West Palm Beach's water supply still contains elevated levels of the toxin.

Mayor Keith James said he's "cautiously optimistic" the water situation will be over the end of the week.

A water advisory hotline has been activated for homebound residents who need water delivered to their home. The number to call is 561-822-2222.

For the latest information on West Palm Beach's drinking water advisory, visit the city's website by clicking here.