Georgia, North Carolina pet owners blame blue-green algae for dogs' deaths

Image 1 of 14

One dog's death in Georgia has captured the nation's attention, after the pet owner took to social media this weekend, describing how her dog was swimming in Lake Allatoona one minute and was brain-dead the next.

In a now viral Facebook post, Morgan Fleming said about 30 minutes after her dog went swimming in the lake, “We noticed her making weird noises, and she threw up and pooped in the car.” By the time they got to the emergency room, Fleming said, “She was brain-dead.”

Fleming is blaming ‘blue-green algae,' a poisonous microscopic bacteria.

Notably, test results from the lake haven't come back yet to confirm her theory. 

On Wednesday, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources said that test results have indicated that the levels of algae were within the safe range.

"EPD suspects an algae bloom may have occurred this past weekend and that the samples were collected after the bloom began to dissipate," the DNR's Environmental Protection Division said in the statement.

Algal blooms have recently been spotted in states along the East Coast and in Texas. They can produce harmful toxins, exacerbated by warm weather.

“It can be very nebulous at first -- vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, lethargy, all the way to bleeding from the gums [and] from their G.I. tract, seizures, [and] if severe enough, it can result in acute liver failure,” Dr. Ryan Bray, a specialist in small animal internal medicine, said.

Melissa Martin of North Carolina is another pet owner blaming blue-green algae for her pups' sudden deaths.

"We just brought our dogs here to have a good time,” she said.

Martin said her three dogs started having seizures just hours after a taking a dip in a local pond.

"We would never put them in a situation like this,” she tearfully said. “They were everything."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urge pet owners to wash animals off immediately after they swim in any water that has a potential algal bloom.

There's no antidote for this toxin in dogs, but there is a slight chance it could be flushed out of the animals' system.

Bray said immediate attention from a vet is the best course of action an owner can take.