FREE SHIPPING* on 90% of Products
Next Business Day Dispatch
60 Day Returns

FREE SHIPPING* on 90% of Products

LAST ORDERS Mon, June 26. Closed for stocktake until Mon, July 3.

We’re experiencing some payment issues. Call 1300 283 387 if you can’t purchase online.

FREE SHIPPING* on 90% of Products

Next Business Day Dispatch

Next Business Day Dispatch

Is Blue-Green Algae Toxic?: A Guide for Horse Owners

Are you a horse owner with a water body on your land? Do you often worry about the presence of blue-green algae and its toxicity to horses and other livestock?

Unfortunately, blue-green algae-affected water is toxic to all animals. In almost all cases, animals that come into contact with blue-green algae will die quickly. For those who recover, treatment is supportive and symptomatic, but recovery is not common.

So, what is blue-green algae? How can you prevent blue-green algal blooms on your property? And what should you do if your horse is exposed to cyanobacteria that produce toxins and cause deadly symptoms in horses? Find out the answers below.

Blue-Green Algae: Types of Blue-Green Algal Blooms

Blue-green algae is actually a group of bacteria known as cyanobacteria. Contrary to what people may believe, not all blue-green algae is harmful. In water bodies, blue-green algae is common, but there is no way of knowing if it is the harmful algal blooms that produce toxins. So, proper maintenance and preventative measures are needed to protect you and your horses from algal toxins.

Blue-green algal blooms show up in your dam in a number of ways. You may notice discolouration in your dam or see floating scum and foams near the shoreline. If the scums look something like pea soup or green paint, it is likely you have a blue-green algae problem in your water.

The Signs of Blue-Green Algae Toxicity in Horses

So, how can you spot the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning in your horses? Common symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning in horses include the following.

  • Gastrointestinal problems: These include diarrhea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Neurological symptoms: These may manifest as stumbling, muscle tremors, and a general lack of coordination.
  • Respiratory distress: You may notice laboured breathing or coughing.
  • Liver damage: Look out for jaundice or yellowing of gums, whites of eyes, and skin.

For horses that have only had low contact with the blue-green algal bloom, you may notice fewer symptoms. Be aware that if a horse has ingested enough blue-green algae, it can be fatal very quickly.

Emergency Response and Veterinary Care

If you believe that your horse has come into contact with a blue-green algal bloom or it is displaying symptoms of poisoning by algal toxins, it is essential that you seek care immediately. A vet can treat the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning and hopefully ensure your horse recovers.

Water Environments Prone to Blue-Green Algal Blooms

Cyanobacteria can be a problem in a range of water environments, so it is essential to be aware if your water body is at high risk of algal blooms. Water environments that are more likely to develop blue-green algal problems include the following.

  • Stagnant or slow-moving water: If your lake, dam, or pond has low circulation, blue-green algae find it much easier to grow.
  • Warmer temperatures: Cyanobacteria love warm water, and warmer temperatures can promote rapid reproduction, which leads to algal blooms.
  • Nutrient-rich waters: If you’ve got excessive amounts of phosphorous, nitrogen, and other nutrients in your water, blue-green algae is likely to thrive.
  • Shallow waters: Algal blooms are more common in shallower waters because the temperature of the water can rise more quickly.

If the water supply that hydrates your horses has any of these characteristics, be aware that an algal bloom is more likely. We have listed below some preventative measures you can take to protect water supplies on your land.

Testing for Blue-Green Algae

Blue-green algae on your water surface are harmful to both human and animal health, so maintaining your water quality and getting any algal blooms under control is in your best interests.

There are a few testing methods that you can do at home to test your water supply for blue-green algae, but we would always recommend buying a proper testing kit. Love My Dam has a blue-green algae testing kit available so that you can get a definitive answer about the presence of cyanobacteria in your dam and begin treatment immediately.

Purchase our blue-green algae testing kit.

Preventive Measures Horse Owners Can Take

As a horse owner, you’re likely to want to limit the presence of harmful algae in your water supplies so that you don’t have to worry about an algal bloom that could be fatal to your horses. There are some preventative measures that can help limit the harmful algae in your water and maintain better water quality all around.

Preventive measures for horse owners include:

  • Regular assessment of the water quality of feeding sources: This includes simply assessing the water sources available to your horse by checking for the visible signs of a potential algal bloom.
  • Testing: Water quality testing is an easy way to get an answer as to whether harmful algae is present in your water.
  • Providing alternative drinking water: If you believe you may have algae-affected water in one supply, provide a clean alternative until you get the water quality back under control.
  • Limit access to algae-affected water: Fence off any water that you think may currently have an algal problem to prevent your horse from drinking from it unsupervised.
  • Use water troughs: Troughs or buckets filled with clean water mean that you are controlling the water your horses are drinking. You can collect it from known clean sources and change it daily.
  • Reduce run-off: Nutrient run-off is a significant issue for water sources when trying to limit algal growth. Implement erosion control and avoid allowing animals to overgraze on land close to your dam to limit the nutrients that enter the water.
  • Vegetative buffer zones: This means planting vegetation around your water source so that nutrient runoff is filtered out and prevented from ending up in your dam.
  • Education: Ensuring that your staff and team members can identify a potential algal bloom or blue-green algae poisoning in your horses is key to preventing poisoning in the first place and recovery in the event that it does occur. Make sure that everyone knows which signs point to blue-green algae and what they should do if they spot it.
  • Emergency plan: Lastly, having an emergency response plan in place should exposure occur is going to be critical for your horse’s safety. Ensure you work with a veterinarian who knows the appropriate measures to take in cases of blue-green algae poisoning.

How to Treat Blue-Green Algal Blooms

If you’ve tested for and found the presence of blue-green algae in your water source, then treating it will help keep all of your animals safe. Treatment options include:

  • Mechanical removal
  • Aeration
  • Nutrient Reduction
  • Algaecides (we always recommend approaching treatment in a natural way first, though!)
  • Biomaniupuation
  • Bacterial products

If you’re looking for help in treating a blue-green algal bloom in your dam, you’ve come to the right place. The experts at Love My Dam have lots of experience treating blue-green algae-affected water, and we can help you, too.

Contact us today if you need guidance on the right products for your blue-green algal bloom now.

Final Thoughts

Blue-green algae is harmful to horses and human health, so immediate treatment is necessary. There are measures you can take to prevent your horses from being impacted by this kind of bacterial poisoning and treatment methods if you suspect an algal bloom.

Remember that education is vital, so being aware of what an algal bloom looks like and how to prevent it will ensure the safety of your horse. Also, be sure to have an emergency plan in place in case you notice symptoms in your horses.