PET owners are being urged to look out for symptoms of a deadly dog poison caused by ingesting blue-green algae.

A vet has warned there has been a 'significant increase' in cases of blue-green algae poisoning which could be due to the spells of warm and wet weather.

The algae blooms can appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water and can contain toxins which are harmful to dogs.

Even a small amount from a contaminated lake, river or pond can have a severe impact if a dog swallows it or even licks their fur after a swim.

Rob Reid, of White Cross Vets, told our sister title the Northern Echo: "These cases are usually extremely rare, so it's a big concern, as it can be deadly if not treated.

"It’s nasty and difficult to diagnose with 100 per cent certainty – the only way to do that is with a post mortem - but the symptoms include everything from vomiting and diarrhoea, to drooling, disorientation, breathing trouble, seizures, blood in faeces, tremors, dizziness and a lack of muscle use.

"These can start to appear almost immediately, or develop over a few hours, depending on the type of toxin ingested.

"If left untreated, it can result in neurological problems, liver issues and death.”

Last week Hatchmere lake nature reserve on the edge of Delamere Forest in Cheshire had to be closed due to blue-green algae.

Signs were put up around the lake to warn swimmers and dog owners.

Chorley Citizen: Credit: Cheshire Wildlife TrustCredit: Cheshire Wildlife Trust

Here's everything you need to know:

What does blue green algae look like?

Blue Cross for Pets describes it as a blue-green scum that appears on the surface of the water. It sometimes looks a bit like pea soup.

A spokesman added: "Blooms of the organisms often build up around the edges of ponds and lakes, which may look like foam.

"It is most common in non-flowing fresh water such as lakes and ponds during hot weather when there is less rainfall, but can also occur at other times of the year.

"You may notice dead fish in ponds or lakes with a high concentration of the toxic bacteria. Don’t let your dog drink from water containing dead animals.

"The algae may be present in a harmful form even if you cannot see it, so take note of any warning signs in the area."

What are the symptoms of blue green algae poisoning?

If your dog shows any of the following signs after drinking from, or swimming or paddling in water, contact your vet immediately and tell them you are concerned about blue-green algae:

  • Vomiting/being sick
  • Diarrhoea
  • Seizures/fitting
  • Weakness/collapse/unconsciousness
  • Disorientation/confusion
  • Drooling
  • Breathing difficulties

There is no antidote for the toxins produced by the bacteria, but if caught early enough, your vet will likely try to make your dog sick and attempt to flush the toxins from the body before they take hold.

Sadly, blue-green algae poisoning often eventually causes fatal liver failure.

These symptoms are commonly seen with other illnesses too, which are often less serious, but you should always call your vet if you are worried your pet is sick.

How can I protect my dog from blue-green algae?

  • Keep your dog away from lakes and ponds that you know, or suspect may, contain blue green algae.
  • Dogs should not be allowed to swim or paddle in water that contains blue green algae.
  • Don’t let dogs drink from water that may have blue green algae in. Because the wind often blows blooms of algae to the edges of ponds or lakes, higher concentrations of the toxin are more likely to be present in the parts of the water your dog may drink from.
  • Take note of signs warning of the algae during dog walks and follow the information given.