On YouTube: Sea Grant Harmful Algal Blooms Info at State Parks Alerts Dog Owners to Potential Risk
Harmful Algal Blooms - Press Release

(Photo, at left) Dogs like Walter love to frolic in water, but may be at health risk from algal toxins. Sadly, the number of dog poisonings from these toxins is on the rise. Credit: Maxine Appleby

NOTE: Below is a late-July press release on the impact some blue green algae can have on your pets; Also included is a late-September discussion with SUNY ESF investigator Greg Boyer on the different kinds of blue green algae and which can pose health hazards.


Katherine Bunting-Howarth, NY Sea Grant Associate Director, E: keb264@cornell.edu, P: 607.255.2832

Jesse Lepak, NY Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist, E: jml78@cornell.edu, P: 315.312.3042

Kara Lynn Dunn, Publicist, E: karalynn@gisco.net, P: 315.465.7578

Ithaca, NY, July 24, 2017 - New York Sea Grant and New York State Parks have partnered to educate dog owners this summer by providing copies of the Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms fact sheet and brochure developed by New York Sea Grant at several State Parks.

Harmful algal blooms, HABs, are a result of toxins produced by some cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae. When cyanobacteria blooms produce toxin, HABs can impact liver function, disrupt the nervous system, and cause skin irritation in humans, pets, waterfowl, and livestock.

The HABs information resources are being well-received by pet owners, according to park officials at Allegany, Bowman Lake, Delta Lake, Gilbert Lake, Long Point on Lake Chautauqua, Point Au Roche on Lake Champlain, Oquaga Creek, Sampson, Southwick, Verona Beach on Oneida Lake, and Westcott Beach State Parks.

NOTE: The New York State Parks offering New York Sea Grant's "Dogs and HABs" educational resources are sites selected to pilot test the distribution of these materials to increase awareness of harmful algal blooms and the potential risks they present specifically to their pets. They are not necessarily sites currently experiencing HAB.

“This partnership with New York State Parks is reaching dog owners in waterfront areas and encouraging them to be more aware of the potential risk from harmful algal blooms and ways they can reduce exposure,” said New York Sea Grant Associate Director Katherine Bunting-Howarth, assistant director of Cornell Cooperative Extension, Ithaca, NY.

“Dogs can be particularly susceptible to the effects of HABs because of their behavior, sometimes drinking water from ponds, lakes, and streams; cleaning their wet fur; and consuming algal mats or scum with attractive odors,” said NY Sea Grant Fisheries and Ecosystem Health Specialist Jesse Lepak.

The Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms fact sheet (pdf) and brochure (pdf) answer these critical questions: What are HABs? When are HABs most likely to occur? What do HABs look like?  How do you know if HAB toxins are present? What are signs of possible cyanobacterial poisoning in dogs? How can you reduce the risk to dogs from cyanobacterial toxins? How can I report a possible HAB in New York State? How can I reach a 24-Hour Pet Poison Hotline.

Digital versions of the HABs resources are online at left in the "Related Links" section. Also included there is the link to our harmful algal blooms resource site, www.nyseagrant.org/habs, as well as a link to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) monitoring for sites at risk for HABs.

New York Sea Grant developed Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms educational materials with assistance from veterinarians and toxicologists with the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, DEC, US Environmental Protection Agency, NOAA National Ocean Service, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, and Sea Grant Network colleagues.

On YouTube: Blue Green Algae Blooms can be deadly for pets

Buffalo, NY, July 26, 2017 - As reporter Jeff Slawson from WKBW, Buffalo's ABC TV-affilate, reports, New York Sea Grant and the State Parks have joined in to release a brochure and fact sheet educating the public on the dangers Blue Green algae pose when consumed by pets.

"It's pretty serious if they ingest it," Dr. Denelle Capobianco said, "So you would want to prevent your dog from going swimming or drinking any water that might be contaminated."

When ingested, pets could experience vomiting, diarrhea, stumbling, and excessive drooling among other symptoms. This could happen as soon as a few minutes from when a pet takes in the algae.

Blue Green Algae was seen in Hoyt Lake earlier this year, and according to Capobianco, it can remain in the water for "multiple weeks."

Her suggestion is to keep away from any water that has been infected, and to make sure dogs and other pets are leashed very close when walking around those areas.

On YouTube: Not All Blue Green Algae Is Toxic

Syracuse, NY, September 22, 2017 - Days after parts of Florida were placed under a state of emergency over toxic blue green algae, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) has confirmed cases of potentially toxic blue green algae closer to home at Lake Como in Cayuga County.

Dr. Greg Boyer, a biochemistry professor at SUNY's College of Environmental Science and Forestry tells Syracuse-based WSYR-TV News Channel 9, blue green algae isn't anything new, but it is on the rise.

"I think Florida should serve as a wake up call for a lot of what's happening in the United States," said Dr. Boyer.

He says the algae is attracted to warm weather and nutrients, so with temperatures across the country heating up, it's the perfect environment.

"They will float to the surface, the wind will bring them right against the shore, it'll look really bad," he said.

But, not all blooms are toxic; he says it's rare to find a toxic bloom.

"Unfortunately, you can't tell by looking at the bloom whether it's going to be safe or not safe. So, generally, the best idea is if you see those big blooms, you're better to err on the side of caution and stay out of the," he said.

Toxic blue green algae is especially harmful for your pets; Dr. Boyer recommends if your pet comes in contact with the algae, wash it off with a garden hose.

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York, is one of 33 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program (NSGCP) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The NSGCP engages this network of the nation’s top universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to foster science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources. Through its statewide network of integrated services, NYSG has been promoting coastal vitality, environmental sustainability, and citizen awareness about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources since 1971.

New York Sea Grant maintains Great Lakes offices at SUNY Buffalo, the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark and at SUNY Oswego. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University and Stony Brook Manhattan, in the Hudson Valley through Cooperative Extension in Kingston and at Brooklyn College. 

For updates on Sea Grant activities: www.nyseagrant.org has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube links. NYSG produces a monthly e-newsletter, "NOAA Sea Grant's Social Media Review," via its blog, www.nyseagrant.org/blog. Our program also offers a free e-list sign up via www.nyseagrant.org/coastlines for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published 1-2 times a year.

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