There’s nothing better than hanging at a lake. Swimming, water-skiing, jet-skiing or just sitting in a boat are all fantastic ways to let your summer roll by. But some lakes have recently been found to have outbreaks of toxic algae across the country making people very sick and even killing some pets.

Last week two dogs actually died after taking a dip in some lakes with algal blooms that were toxic in Northern California. But this isn’t just happening in Northern California, this has also happened in Washington, Florida, North Carolina and New York also.

So what do you need to know about these toxic algae and how can you protect yourself? We investigated to give you some answers.

 

But Doesn’t Every Lake Have Algae?

Algae is totally normal, but when there are too many algae it becomes known as a HAB and it produces toxins that are actually poisonous to all living things. The algae overgrowth can cause anything from irritating the skin to even vomiting. So when you’re at the lake this summer maybe bring your own water, because chugging this water will have ill effects on your body and maybe even your mind. But while that may seem like common sense to you, it is not common sense to your pets. So keep them tied up until that you’re sure the water is safe but if the lake looks as though it’s covered in green sludge, that’s usually a pretty good sign that there are too many algae in that lake.

So What is to Blame for This New Toxic Sludge?

Well, it may have something to do with global warming. When it gets hotter and the seasons get longer then more and more algae grows and these blooms now last all the way to winter. These blooms have always been there but now since the risk of the HABs is increasing, scientists are studying them more now because they are becoming more and more of a health risk.

 

How Do We (My Dog and Me) Avoid This Stuff?

Well, there are a few differences between these toxic algae and totally harmless algae. Before you dive in, look at the green stuff and try to see if it’s a duller green or a bright neon green. Neon green is bad and dull green is fine. So basically if the algae resemble prototypical toxic sludge or the ooze that turned the regular turtles into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles then stay away. It will not turn you into an awesome mutant, it will just make you barf.

Also, these bad algae tend to stay on the top of the water instead of looking more like a plant and get all clumpy and stringy. So if you don’t go chug the water in the toxic areas then you should be fine. But if you do find yourself swimming through some of this disgusting stuff, just be sure to rinse yourself off as soon as possible.

As for your dog, maybe just keep them out of the lake as much as possible this summer. If they want to hop in too, just be careful that they’re as far away from this gross toxic sludge as possible.

Happy swimming and happy summer.