ELDRIDGE, Iowa (KWQC) -- Officials and local veterinarians are urging residents to be aware of toxic blue-green algae and the dangers it poses to humans, animals, and the environment.
After a number of dog owners took to social media to share their stories of losing their pets to toxic algae poisoning, officials are encouraging people learn what to look out for.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), summer conditions, particularly higher temperatures and low winds, are ideal conditions for the growth of blue-green algae in bodies of water.
Environmental officials refer to these rapid growths of algae as "blooms."
The EPA says these blooms typically occur during the warmer months between June and September in the state of Illinois.
According to the EPA, most blue-green algae are harmless, but not all.
Dr. Collin Post of Risius Family Veterinary Service in Eldridge says pet owners should recognize the signs a dog has been exposed to a toxin so they are able to react quickly.
He says some of the most immediate signs of a dog who has been poisoned are "diarrhea, vomiting, basic G.I. upset, and it's a very serious toxin or toxicity that can happen."
Post says acute liver failure can be a result of a dog who has been poisoned by a toxic algae bloom, and it can be difficult to correct due to how quickly it happens.
The EPA also says symptoms your dog has been exposed to a harmful algae bloom may include weakness or staggering, drooling, difficulty breathing, or convulsions.
In North Carolina, Melissa Martin and Denise Mintz are speaking out about their heartbreak.
Martin says their three dogs died Thursday night after they were exposed to a blue-green algae in a pond they visited.
Apost by Martin explains they are trying to share their story to bring awareness to this hidden danger.
During an interview with WECT-TV, Martin says, "I just told him what a good boy he was and how he had done so much and we weren't gonna let this happen for nothing."
EPA officials say if you or your dog come in contact with a blue-green algae bloom, you should rinse off with clean, fresh water as soon as possible.
Although the harmful algae can cause serious, even deadly consequences for dogs, it can also cause harm to humans as well.
Health officials say the most common way you can be exposed are by direct skin contact, ingestion of contaminated water, or accidentally inhaling the water through droplets.
The EPA says symptoms include coughing, wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, rashes, hives, or symptoms that may be more serious.
As for your pets, Dr. Post says in any medical situation, the best thing to do is to be up front with your veterinarian about what you believe happened, so they are able to assess and find the quickest approach to treating their condition.
The EPA has provided a list of ways you can protect your dog from toxic algae, which can be viewed, here.
Iowa Department of Public Health has resources on their site you can visit if you are interested in learning more about their beach testing program, as well as information on toxic algal blooms.
You can find that information, here.
In Illinois, the Environmental Protection Agency breaks down how to recognize what a blue-green algae bloom looks like.