The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has warned pet owners following increasing reports of blue-green algae.
Pet owners have been advised to take extra precautions when walking their dogs near bodies of water, by preventing them from drinking from and swimming in water from ponds, lakes and rivers.
Blue-green algae can cause vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces in dogs. If left untreated the algae can cause liver damage, becoming fatal within days.
The presence of blue green algae has recently been confirmed in water bodies in Scotland, the Lake District, North Lincolnshire and East Northamptonshire, among other locations.
BVA senior vice president, Gudrun Ravetz said: “We know that some dogs enjoy nothing better than a paddle in a cool lake while on a walk in this hot weather, but my advice to pet owners would be to keep your dog on a lead during walks near water confirmed to have toxic algal blooms.
“While not all blue green algae are poisonous, it is impossible to tell the difference visually, so it is better to be safe than sorry. Prompt veterinary treatment is key to tackling the effects of the toxins and ensuring a good chance of recovery, so if you suspect your dog has been exposed to blue green algae, rush it to your local vet without delay.”