In central Kentucky, blooms are most common in late summer and early fall, during hot, sunny weather. Contamination of water with excess nutrients, particularly nitrogen and phosphorus, further encourages algal growth. Blooms can produce a blue-green sheen on the water surface, or they can be pea-green and thick, like spilled paint. In addition to blue and green, blooms can also be brown or white. They can form scums, slimes, or mats. It is impossible to tell if a bloom is toxic just by its appearance – ALL blooms should be considered potentially toxic.
- Provide plentiful clean, clear, fresh water for your animals. Keep water bowls, buckets, and troughs clean and well-maintained.
- NEVER let your pets (or children) swim in, play in, or drink water that is discolored, slimy, scummy, or otherwise suspicious. Assume any bloom is toxic.
- Pay attention to local health and water advisories and respect any water body closures. Water that appears clean can still contain high concentrations of toxins.
- Fence off farm ponds, creeks, and other natural water sources to prevent livestock from contaminating them as well as drinking from them.
- Fence off backyard ponds and other natural water sources to keep pets from accessing them.
- Prevent fertilizer and/or manure from running off into water sources.
- If your pet does access suspicious water, thoroughly wash them with clean, fresh water and prevent them from licking their fur. Wash your own hands and arms after washing your pet, as exposure to blue-green algae can cause skin, eye, nose, and throat irritations in humans.
- If animals become ill after exposure to a pond, lake, or other natural water source, seek immediate veterinary care – even if the water appeared clean, toxins can still be present. Be sure to tell your veterinarian if your animal might have been exposed to blue-green algae. This can help direct treatment, as many other illnesses can have similar signs.