Warning to stay away from Lake District spot due to algae toxic to dogs

Visitors to the Lake District are being urged to stay away from a popular beauty spot due to the presence of algae that could be fatally toxic to dogs.

Blooms of the poisonous blue-green algae were found in the water at Thirlmere reservoir. It prompted the Environment Agency to take samples of the Cumbria site on July 14, reports The Mirror.

The algae came to the EA’s attention after visitors reported some of the water looking like “green paint”.

Dog walker Rose Gare-Simmons said Labrador retriever Blisco had to be taken to the vet after he went into the water. The paddle resulted in the pooch needing injections to induce vomiting. 

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Ms Gare-Simmons, from Morecambe, said it was a really hot day and she had been worried her pet would suffer heatstroke after a long walk at Raven Crag. She then decided to take him to Thirlmere to cool off, but he ran off ahead and she lost sight of him because the area was so overgrown.

She said: “Blisco had run ahead and I caught up with him in the water less than a minute later. I saw the state of the water, it was so green and thick it looked like paint.

“I panicked and got him out and took him to a clearer bit of water to wash him. I heard that algae can kill dogs within an hour as it is so poisonous so I rang the vet and we were in the car within seconds.”

Blue-green algae occurs naturally in bodies of freshwater, but some kinds can be toxic to humans and lethal to animals.

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When the algae blooms, the water becomes less clear and may look green, blue-green or greenish-brown.

Scums can form during calm weather when several bloom-forming species rise to the surface. This can look like paint, mousse or small clumps.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “Cyanobacteria or ‘blue-green algae’, a type of blooming algae, can produce toxins.

“These toxins can kill wild animals, livestock and pets. They can also harm people, producing rashes after skin contact and illnesses if swallowed.

Zoologist Matt Staniek previously warned “people’s health is being put at risk” after blooms were reported in Windermere in 2022.

Mr Staniek, who last month led a campaign against the discharge of sewage into the lake, claimed phosphate, coming from United Utilities’ owned sites, was feeding the blooms.

Environment Agency bosses said they had spent hundreds of thousands of pounds in the past decade to help tackle the problem.

United Utilities said it recognised there were concerns and it was committed to “playing its part” in minimising its impact to Windermere.

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