New York Sea Grant brochure alerts pet owners of Harmful Algal Blooms

Oswego, New York –  New York Sea Grant has announced the publication of Dogs and Harmful Algal Blooms. Harmful algal blooms, or HABs, especially in the state’s fresh water, are overgrowths of cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, that cause water quality problems in lakes and ponds, including the occasional production of potent toxins. These toxins can poison people, household pets, waterfowl and livestock. 

Because HABs are increasing in many areas, the number of dog poisonings from cyanobacterial toxins is also on the rise. To keep canine companions safe around local waterways, this important brochure provides pet owners a safety checklist of symptoms of HABs poisoning and steps that can be taken if a dog is exposed to HABs.

Author Dave MacNeill, a New York Sea Grant extension educator based at the State University of NY at Oswego, began noticing more and more reports of dogs becoming ill from the toxins produced by HABs in the Lake Ontario area. 

‘People might get sick, but dogs are actually dying,’ said MacNeill. 

In compiling this brochure, MacNeill enlisted the aid of Dr. Karyn Bischoff, a toxicologist at Cornell University Veterinary College; Scott Kishbaugh of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation; Dr. Lesley V. D’Anglada of the US Environmental Protection Agency; John Wickham, NOAA National Ocean Service; and colleagues in the Sea Grant network. Dr. Greg Boyer of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry who has researched HABs extensively, from blue-greens in upstate lakes to brown tide in Long Island bays, and Dr. Chris Gobler of Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, an internationally known expert in HABs, were also consulted on the brochure.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research Funding provided funding for the development and printing of this publication.

The publication is available for download at