Pet parents warned to keep dogs away from toxic algae

Water means playtime for our four-legged friends, but it could also turn unexpectedly deadly.

"They were putting needles in her, and her eyes weren't even blinking or flinching or anything," Ashley Guzi told FOX 13 in Nov. 2018.

Her dog Costa was one of six to die last fall after being exposed to toxic blue-green algae in South Florida.

Last week three dogs died in North Carolina after playing in a lake, and the owner's veterinarian blamed toxic algae.

The reports make Stephen Woods more alert when he brings Daisy to the dog beach in Tampa.

"Mainly [I] just watch to make sure the water's not too hot, so all that bacteria and stuff is just blooming in that water if it's not that hot," said Woods, of Riverview.

On Monday, Hillsborough and Pinellas counties said there are no reports of toxic blue-green algae in the water.

Valerie Naranjo values those water quality reports for her dogs, Harley and Hunter.

"We already learned our experience with red tide. We didn't know that, so they got really sick," said Naranjo, of Tampa.

When dogs drink water with toxic algae, they can suffer from vomiting or diarrhea, start stumbling, stop breathing or even foam at the mouth.

"We try to check how the beach is before we bring them. And if it's good, we bring them here for an hour, hour and a half," said Naranjo.

Depending on the type of toxic algae, the foam or sludge floating on the water can look bright green, blue, red or brown, so owners are watching out for their pets.

"You never know what can happen you know. Today, I can bring them here, and the next day they are sick and all that," said Naranjo.

Dogs in Texas and Georgia also reportedly died this summer from toxic algae.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection tracks blue-green algae statewide, and they encourage locals to report signs of algae. Workers test the water and then put out alerts if it turns out to be toxic.