Lake Madison Family Warns Pet Owners After Losing Dog to Blue-Green Algae

LAKE MADISON, S.D – Living by the water can be a luxury. But, one dog owner on Lake Madison discovered that there are some potential dangers that come with it.

In the warm months, blue-green algae becomes a nationwide issue. South Dakota is no different.

“Chemical toxins inside their cells, and then when they die and break, these toxins are released, particularly on the shore lines,” says Dakota State University Professor Dale Droge.

Experts say that ingesting blue-green algae can be fatal for pets. Dog owner Denise Lewis found this out the hard way. Her 3 year old Blueberry ate algae on Lake Madison. 36 hours later she died. She suffered from internal bleeding, loss of appetite, and experienced vomiting.

Denis says it was a “Tragic surprise, um, so it’s heart wrenching.”

Denise wants her loss to be a lesson to others. She’s working to raise awareness.

“Across the country to different dog organizations, vets, other lake organizations, which is fantastic.”

Denise is finding that she is making a difference. She has been able to educate lake communities. She hopes that other pets will be able to avoid Blueberry’s fate.

“Comments like gee I didn’t know, we’ll be careful on our lake too, so if this bad tragedy can do some good, you know, I’ll take that.”

Droge says that the best way to protect your pet from blue-green algae is plain and simple… stay away from it.

“Try to avoid contact with the water during the heavy algae blooms,” he says.

Denise knows she cannot bring blueberry back, but she has memories to last a lifetime.

“Everybody says their dog is special, right, but this dog was special.”

Blue-green algae has also been found in Lake Kampeska near Watertown, and Lake Poinsett near Arlington.

The level of pet contamination can depend on things like the amount of algae and the size of your pet.

If you’re concerned about possible exposure, you should take your dog to the vet right away.

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