Harmful Algae

Harmful Algae and Your Dog:  Know the Risks 

Last year several dogs became sick and some died after being exposed to harmful algae on Lady Bird Lake. We don’t know whether the harmful algae will return this year, but the summer and fall are times of increased risk. The City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Department has developed a weekly monitoring program for algae to begin this summer.
The following information was taken with permission from the City of Austin’s Watershed Protection Algae webpage.
We urge dog owners to be cautious if they take their dogs to Lady Bird Lake this summer. They should check The City of Austin’s Watershed Protection website for updates before taking their dogs to the lake, not allow their dogs to swim in stagnant areas or areas with visible algae and rinse their dogs after contact with the water. This will help prevent dogs from swallowing algae on their fur.

The lake is at increased risk for harmful algae in the summer and fall, when water temperatures are warm and there is less flow through the lake. We recommend the following:

Keep dogs away from floating mats of algae and stagnant areas of the lake.
Rinse your dog after contact with the water.
If your dog becomes sick after swimming, take your dog to a veterinarian immediately.

If you allow your dog to swim in Lady Bird Lake, you do so at your own risk. 

We hope that no dogs get sick this year from harmful algae in the lake! However, if it happens, we ask that the public report the illness to 3-1-1.

Symptoms of Exposure
Dogs who ingest algae with this toxin could have a number of symptoms, including respiratory paralysis and death. Dogs can also be exposed to the toxin by licking algae from their fur. Look for these signs in your pet within minutes to hours of exposure:
    Excessive drooling, vomiting and diarrhea
    Foaming at the mouth
    Jaundice and enlarged liver
    Blood in urine or dark urine
    Loss of appetite
    Photosensitization in recovering animals
    Abdominal tenderness
    Progression of muscle twitches
    Respiratory paralysis

Risk for People
The risk to humans is currently low. The 2019 harmful algae bloom appears to have only affected dogs. The toxins were contained in the algae and not released into the water. It is always recommended that people avoid stagnant areas of the lake and handling algae. Remember that people are not allowed to swim in Lady Bird Lake (Ord. 640611-C). 

Please visit the City of Austin Algae page at AustinTexas.gov/algae  for up to date information on algae levels and lake testing. 

Please click HERE to download the flier “Harmful Algae on Ladybird Lake.”  This one-page flier has an easy to read graphic to help identify and understand peak danger times for your pet.
Please click HERE to download the Spanish version of the flier “Harmful Algae on Ladybird Lake.”