Dog Owners, in Particular, Should Watch Out for Potentially Lethal Poisonings  

Assemblyman Brian Miller (R,I,C,Ref-New Hartford) would like to caution New Yorkers, particularly those who own dogs, about harmful algal blooms (HABs) which have appeared on water bodies across the nation and are causing illness and death in dogs after swimming and ingesting water made toxic by HABs.

“We are so fortunate to have beautiful water bodies all throughout our community with walking trails or bike paths that allow for residents to get their daily exercise, and often that exercise extends to their dogs as well,” said Miller. “Many dogs love to swim, and while this is normally a wonderful bonding experience between pet and owner, New Yorkers should be aware of harmful algal blooms and the affect they can have on people and pets.”

Also known as cyanobacteria, HABs are blue-green algae that can appear in water bodies during periods of high heat or in bright sunny areas. While algae is common in most water bodies, HABs are different in that they can produce types of poison that can make people and animals sick, or even cause death. HABs can appear in fresh and saltwater, and even in man-made water bodies such as pools, fountains or landscaping ponds.

Miller cautions New Yorkers to keep a close eye on children and pets, both during and after swimming, as some symptoms can take effect very quickly, while others can take a few days to develop. Always rinse off your pets (and self) after swimming and try to encourage pets not to drink from water bodies. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, symptoms include rashes, weakness or staggering, stomach cramps, nausea, diarrhea or vomiting, drooling, difficulty breathing, and convulsions or seizures. If you or someone you love has recently been swimming and is experiencing these symptoms, please contact your veterinarian or seek medical attention immediately.

Physically, HABs can take on many forms and colors, though they always appear on the surface of the water and often have a strong, nauseating smell. Because HABs are difficult to identify, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has set up an online form where the public can report potential HABs to have investigated and also provides a map of recent HAB locations ( Please go to the DEC’s website at to learn more or to report a sighting.