The North Dakota Game and Fish Department advises hunters to be cautious with their dogs around water this time of year, due to potential health hazards associated with blue-green algae.
Dr. Dan Grove, wildlife veterinarian for the Game and Fish Department, said late summer and early fall offer prime conditions for blue-green algae growth in many state waters. Ingestion by a hunting dog while perhaps retrieving a bird during the early goose season, or just practicing retrieving, can lead to severe illness and potential death.
“Conditions are right this year for stagnant water to become contaminated, especially with all of the rainfall that has occurred,” Grove said.
Potentially toxic algae blooms occur under conditions of hot, dry weather. Shallow, stagnant water with moderate to high nutrient content provides an optimum environment for algal growth. Water or wind movements often concentrate the algae, and eventually the bloom appears as a blue-green “scum” floating on the water’s surface. The threat disappears once the weather turns colder.
“Hunting dogs shouldn’t drink or swim in discolored water or where algal blooms are apparent,” Grove said. “If dogs retrieve in these conditions, they should be rinsed off immediately and shouldn’t be allowed to lick their coat.”
For additional information about the effects of blue-green algae blooms on hunting dogs, contact the Animal Health Division, North Dakota Department of Agriculture, at (701) 328-2655; or a local veterinarian.