A veterinarian notified health officials of the sudden death of the dog earlier this week, and blue-green algae toxins were initially suspected to be the cause.
But a senior watershed analyst for the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality said Thursday that she found no evidence of a bloom, or high concentration of the algae, where the dog had been drinking the water — near the boat launch at Ponderosa State Park.
“The water was very clear. There were no indications of a bloom, but I did take samples,” said Stephanie Jenkins, who works for the Boise Regional Office of the DEQ. “We should have those back tomorrow. ... It’s very unlikely that we would get a result that would suggest a bloom.”
Blue-green algae are also called cyanobacteria because they are actually bacteria, not algae. A bloom is when the bacteria grows very rapidly, and that causes the water to become cloudy. Blooms can appear blue, green, red and even opaque white, and might have the appearance of spilled paint, Jenkins said.
Most blooms are not harmful, officials say. But some species do produce toxins, so they advise the public not to go near water that has an unusual color, or areas identified as having harmful blooms. Dogs who have been exposed may exhibit weakness, staggering, difficulty breathing and convulsions. Some die within a few hours of exposure.
Jenkins said there haven’t been any documented cases of harmful algae blooms on Payette Lake or in the Treasure Valley, but a health advisory was issued Thursday afternoon for Hayden Lake, where a species of blue-green algae that can produce toxins was identified. There are similar advisories for Fernan Lake and Avondale Lake.
Contact Idaho DEQ at 769-1422 for information.