Tuesday, August 6, 2019 by Sangita Menon

Austin officials advise keeping pets out of Lady Bird Lake following death of two dogs

The city of Austin is warning people to keep their pets out of Lady Bird Lake while authorities test the water for the presence of harmful algae. Two dogs died recently after swimming in the lake, though officials cannot confirm the cause of death.

City scientists found clumps of algae rising to the surface from the bottom of the lake Sunday. Preliminary tests suggest it’s a type of blue-green algae that can release a neurotoxin harmful both to pets and humans if enough water or algae is ingested.

Austin has experienced blue-green algae blooms before, but it has not released neurotoxins. Scientists will have results early next week on whether that toxin is currently present in the water.

The city said it’s still illegal for people to swim in the lake, so exposure should be limited. People using the lake for other activities should avoid ingesting water or coming into contact with the algae.

The current algae bloom is covering up to 40 percent of the water near Red Bud Isle, the city said, accumulating on shorelines and present in areas with low water flow.

If your pet has been in the lake, the city advises looking for the following symptoms:

  • excessive drooling, vomiting or diarrhea
  • foaming at the mouth
  • jaundice
  • blood in urine or dark urine
  • stumbling
  • loss of appetite
  • sensitivity to light
  • abdominal tenderness
  • progression of muscle twitches
  • respiratory paralysis

Austin Water does not use the lake as a drinking water source. Lake Austin and Lake Travis are tested regularly for algae levels, and the department has not noted anything to be concerned about.

This story was produced as part of the Austin Monitor’s reporting partnership with KUT. Photo by KUT: A dog jumps into Lady Bird Lake in 2012.

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