A VET has urged pet owners to be vigilant and look out for 'highly poisonous' blue-green algae when enjoying the outdoors with their four-legged friends.

PDSA veterinary nurse Nina Downing revealed this particular type of bacteria, which can grow in all aquatic environments, can be fatal.

The algae, which is most often prevalent in still or stagnant water during the summer, can also result in long-term health problems for those pets that survive.

The warning comes after a number of beauty spots in and around the Northwich and Winsford areas have reported incidents of blue-green algae.

Nina said: "Dogs are particularly at risk, as they are more likely to drink from ponds while out on a walk, or groom themselves after swimming in affected water.

"However – the more aware we are of the potential dangers, the better we can protect our precious four-legged friends.”

"Blue-green algae often appears as a green or blueish scum, but sometimes has a brown tinge and it’s seen on the water’s surface, it can sometimes clump up and the blooms can create foam on the shoreline.

"There’s no way of telling if algae is toxic just by looking at it, and some types of blue-green algae are only dangerous at certain times of year, but always be cautious and don’t take any risks around it.

"Be vigilant when walking your dog near any form of water, and if it looks bright green in colour, avoid at all costs.

"Never let your pooch drink from a pond or lake with dead fish or animals in either, the water could be dangerously toxic and make your pet extremely ill with potentially fatal consequences.  

"Your local council will put up signposts in areas regularly affected by blue-green algae, so make sure you scan the surroundings for any indication of danger before letting your dog go for a swim."

What are the symptoms of blue-green algae poisoning?

Nine added: “Symptoms can occur very quickly (within 15 minutes to one hour of exposure) and even a small amount can be lethal to a dog, so it’s important to act quickly and contact your vet immediately.

"Signs to look out for include vomiting, twitching, seizures, diarrhoea, increased thirst, drooling, breathing difficulties, or a collapse.

"If you spot blue-green algae but there are no signposts to warn dog owners, you should report it to the Environment Agency on 0800 80 70 60.

"They’ll test the water and put up signage in the surrounding area to warn owners and help prevent any potential future cases."

More from the PDSA can be found at pdsa.org.uk.