NewsRegion Martin County


Dog owners worry exposure to algae making pets sick; no study to link algae exposure with illness

Posted at 5:15 PM, Sep 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-02 11:37:27-04

As doctors begin to investigate the effects of algae exposure on humans, local veterinarians are looking to see what kind of impact algae exposure can have on pets.

Outside the Monterey Animal Clinic in Stuart, Costa, a golden retriever, sits quietly.  This four-year-old lives on the water in Rio and had no previous health issues.

Veterinarian Christina Maldonado says Costa wasn’t allowed to play in the water but slipped away over the holiday weekend.

“A neighbor saw her down by shoreline, brought her back to house not even thinking about it.  An hour later, she started vomiting," said Maldonando.

The family rushed Costa to the Pet Emergency clinic where she showed signs of liver failure, one of three dogs to show similar symptoms recently.  Maldonado says there are no studies that show a link between algae exposure and Costa's health issues.  Maldonado posted to the #Toxic18 Facebook page and says she’s working with labs at Iowa State and Kansas State that see cyanobacteria exposure in dogs to get treatment protocols in place for Costa.

It could be months before Costa is out of the woods.

This news spread fast among dog owners.

Jeffery Fogg says Nabla no longer gets to play in the water, or the sand.

“Don’t want myself, or my dog or my 21-year-old kid to be exposed to this stuff," said Fogg. 

Laura Schmidt lives along the St. Lucie River. Her dog is on antibiotics after she noticed an eye ailment.

“I asked the vet could this be linked to the blue-green algae?  She said it could be," said Schmidt.

While there's no certainty, more pet owners are certain they’ll keep their animals away from whatever may be lurking in the water.