Pet Safety- Blue Green Algae and fish ponds and birds of prey taking small dogs

By
Services for Real Estate Pros with Canopy Insurance, LLC

I recently installed a 2500 gallon fish pond and waterfall at my new house.  Shortly thereafter I started hearing stories about dogs dying from exposure to certain types of algae blooms.  Does anyone know if a UV clarifier that turns over 3500 gallons an hour would keep this problem from occurring?  My dogs are very precious to me and really aren't allowed to run around unsupervised but now that I know this can be so deadly it's got me worried to let them go near my pond at all :(

A newly installed Koi pond and waterfall 

There are a couple other warnings out there for you pet lovers that I want to make sure to share.  I belong to an online community of Brussels Griffon owners and learned from some members that grapes and raisins  can be fatal.  Additionally, I want to make anyone out here who has never thought about it ACUTELY aware of just how dangerous birds of prey are for our tiny dogs.  My smallest is less than 5 pounds so he would be an easy snack for an owl or hawk.  In fact, I've heard of at LEAST 9 occurrences of small dogs being grabbed by hawks or owls; most commonly it's been a Pomeranian and a startling number of these situations have happened within 6 feet of the owner and occasionally while the dog is still leashed :( It's just something I never really thought about until after I had small dogs for a while so PLEASE BE CAREFUL WITH YOUR PRECIOUS ONES!!

Here's my solution:

Inside, there is temperature control and no access to any household items that might be problematic

 

Inside dog pen 

Then, when they want to, if it's nice outside, they can run through the wall to the outdoor doggy condo!  It's completely covered so big birds can't get them and has an alarm system.  Since this photo heavy rubber mats have been placed throughout with a small area remaining in gravel so the potty area can easily drain.  There are also two great dane sized houses in the outside area in case it's a nice night to camp out!

Outside dog pen

If any of you are aware of other concerns or any inventive solutions that would help us keep our pets safe I sure would like to hear about them.....

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Rainmaker
1,005,297
Charles McDonald
Charlottesville Real Estate Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
REALTOR®, Blogger, Principal Broker®, Owner

Becky, this is something most people would not know or think of. Thanks for bringing it to our attention. If you post a picture of a pond, you might get more readers. Just my opinion!

thanks again!

Oct 11, 2007 06:53 AM #1
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Becky, I love your photos and the outdoor home you have created for your dogs.  I never thought about the dangers that could harm our pets.  I live in the city so my dogs stay mostly in doors but if I lived in the country, I'd follow your design for a dog haven.  From what I saw, I think the first photo you have is of the pond.  Thanks for sharing this information.  GREAT BLOG and great photos.  I'm a pet lover also.
Oct 13, 2007 11:31 AM #2
Rainmaker
198,270
Mary Strang
Viroqua, WI
Real Estate

Good warning on Hawks... I was searching the Internet to see if hawks would snatch a small dog and found your AR post.  Just yesterday on Friday, while meeting with a new listing client on a wooded 20 acre tract of country land, the owner and friend showed up with 2 little Chihuahua dogs, which were not leased. When I first saw this the thought crossed my mind that it was not wise to let these small dogs run about in the wooded land unleashed. I did not mention this and now wish I had because only hours later after I had left the property I got a frantic cell call from the crying pet owner that one of the dogs was missing. Apparently she had just turned her back for a moment and then it was gone. Vanished into thin air without a sound, they search for hours and even spent the night on the land in their car, but left this morning, without any trace of the dog. I am certain a hawk did snatch the dog. They did not hear any noise or see any hawk, but could not find the dog, just wondering if this could happen without any sound and that fast?

Oct 13, 2007 08:10 PM #3
Rainer
6,552
Becky Reid
Canopy Insurance, LLC - Charlottesville, VA

Ugh.  Yes.  I've heard of at least 4 reports of hawks snatching dogs within 6 feet of their owners.  One was even leashed.  Remember, birds of prey are fast for a reason.. they catch rabbits, mice and other small creatures who are very quick themselves.  I'm sick to my stomach to hear of your clients' plight.  So sorry you didn't run into my post a week earlier.  Oh well, not much you can do about it now.  In a way, it's better if it was silent.  A pom once got snatched and the owner got to listen to it scream until the hawk flew out of site.  Could you even IMAGINE???? :( 

I always feel badly that my guys don't get out to play much, but I'm too scared to take the chance.

 

 

Oct 13, 2007 08:57 PM #4
Rainmaker
1,055,550
Joan Whitebook
BHG The Masiello Group - Nashua, NH
Consumer Focused Real Estate Services
It is great to share information that may help us make our pets safe.   Thanks for the heads up.
Oct 13, 2007 10:18 PM #5
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous
Becky, Charles sent me over to your post from his. I have a question. Have you come up with any safety solutions with water features for your pets? I certainly wouldn't want them or my kids to get harmed or worse because I wanted something pretty in my yard.
Oct 14, 2007 02:37 PM #6
Rainer
6,552
Becky Reid
Canopy Insurance, LLC - Charlottesville, VA

Stephen-

Basically, mine are just never out unless supervised.  I *think* that the UV filter probably helps keep my pond safe, but I sure won't bet my dogs lives on that.  I'll let you know if I can ever come up with a definitive answer.  From what I've read, the blue green algae "blooms" are what are deadly.  My understanding is that they are most prevalent in the late summer and early fall when ponds are rich in nutrients and the water tends to be warm.  Apparently there is either an extra enzyme or a bacteria present during a bloom (an extreme rate of growth) that can kill a dog within 10 minutes of exposure.  I've not had the chance to do extensive research about this yet, but from what I've read, they cautioned that the bloom can appear as a film on the surface or even a foamy bubbly substance.  I think it's worst in water that is stagnant and many dogs get into trouble by swimming in this water and then licking their fur.  A friend of mine had a neighbor who lost 2 bulldogs within 20 minutes of each other from exposure to a water feature that was apparently in bloom so it's just made me really concerned. 

The reason that I suspect the UV filter probably helps the situation is that it breaks down the cells of algae.  My pond is hardly stagnant.  It's 2500 gallons and my pump/waterfall pulls 3500 gallons an hour.  I chose the UV filter in spite of the cost of the thing ($450) because I just didn't want to risk using tons of chemicals since my animals were around.  As far as kids, there are pond nets that can be placed over the surface, but I have a hard time thinking that this would be very attractive :).  I purposely kept my pond a little on the shallow side so that hopefully there would never be a problem.  My deep end is no more than 24 inches deep.

I'll let you know as I find out more about the blue green algae issue.  Maybe someone will eventually respond who has some experience but I can tell you what... until I know for SURE that my pond is safe, my doggies aren't allowed near it!  My fish however, are obviously really happy and health and growing like crazy so from their perspective the pond is GREAT! 

 

 

 

Oct 14, 2007 06:33 PM #7
Rainmaker
113,956
Peg Gilliland
Charlottesville Solutions - Charlottesville, VA
Broker, GRI, CDPE
Becky, this is something I would have never thought of and thank you for letting us know. I see you and Charles are friends? He and I are in a class together too.
Oct 28, 2007 10:48 AM #8
Rainmaker
214,649
Tricia Jumonville
Bradfield Properties - Georgetown, TX
Texas REALTOR , Agent With Horse Sense

Becky, any update on this?  I just ran across it and went and did some research and a google images search on blue green algae bloom and it looks like it would be pretty obvious if you had a bloom in your fishpond.  Plus, your fish would die first, which would give you a heads up if you're paying attention to it.

Lots of interesting info out there on this (I tried to stay away from the Panic! Panic! sites and stick to more factual ones, and only ones with photos of what one should beware of). 

My dogs have 55 acres, with a creek running across it, so I wanted to be doubly sure. 

 

Nov 17, 2007 05:12 PM #9
Rainer
6,552
Becky Reid
Canopy Insurance, LLC - Charlottesville, VA

Tricia-

I spoke to my vet about this very issue yesterday and he basically said that his recommendation is to keep the dogs away from the pond all together.  He stated that the bloom could happen so quickly that dogs can get into trouble before you're even aware that there is a problem.  He felt that my UV light was probably pretty helpful, but that there was no way to guaranty that it would keep the dogs safe.  He felt like this was a pretty serious concern.

Becky 

 

 

Nov 21, 2007 10:14 PM #10
Rainer
6,552
Becky Reid
Canopy Insurance, LLC - Charlottesville, VA

Tricia-

I spoke to my vet about this very issue yesterday and he basically said that his recommendation is to keep the dogs away from the pond all together.  He stated that the bloom could happen so quickly that dogs can get into trouble before you're even aware that there is a problem.  He felt that my UV light was probably pretty helpful, but that there was no way to guaranty that it would keep the dogs safe.  He felt like this was a pretty serious concern.

Becky 

 

 

Nov 21, 2007 10:14 PM #11
Rainer
262,370
Ginger Sala
Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~

Becky,

My goodness these  are issues I never had heard of beofre. How awful for your clients, They must be heartbroken. No worries with my 6o plus lb. Bella... Do these birds of prey attack in suburban backyards?

Ginger

Nov 21, 2007 11:09 PM #12
Anonymous
Anonymous
Anonymous

Becky, thanks for the info on the Algae bloom! My Koi pond is actually in the entry of my home and even though it's only 900 gallons I have a UV light in my main filer as well. All the same my dogs don't bother much with it and even the cats don't drink from it but I'll definitely know now to proceed with caution when we are out on our walks to steer the dogs away from anyone's outdoor ponds. I thought I'd share a photo of my pond with you...

  

 Cheers, Emily~Celebrate Staging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feb 22, 2008 11:21 PM #13
Rainer
6,552
Becky Reid
Canopy Insurance, LLC - Charlottesville, VA

Alexandra-

Thanks so much for sharing pics of your pond.  I love it!  I would think that since it's indoors, you wouldn't have to worry about blooms as badly but caution is never a bad idea!

 

Becky

 

Feb 24, 2008 07:16 PM #14
Rainer
58,137
Jennifer Esposito
JenRan Realty, LLC - Woodstock, CT
There have been a couple of occasions when I was walking my Chihuahua and a hawk circled overhead.  All I could picture was the hawk with my Chi in its talons and me holding the leash as if flying a live kite.  Scary! 
I love your dogs' enclosure. 
Feb 25, 2008 07:27 PM #15
Rainmaker
251,334
Kathy Riggle
STAGING SMART N SOLD - Houston, TX
Houston Home Staging

Large owls can also take small dogs as prey.  Thanks for the informative post.

Kathy

Feb 25, 2008 07:48 PM #16
Rainer
136,132
Gayle Balaban
The Best Spot Realty/Waterfront Real Estate/Ooltewah Real E - Chattanooga, TN
E. TN Waterfront Real Estate
We poodle owners hve discussed this on our list too.  Oxygenated water will not produce this condition only stagnant water allows algae to grow.  Leptosporosis is another concern and small bodies of standing water are often the culprit.  ALso, no matter what size dog you have be very aware of raccoons especially at night. There is a large prevalence of rabies in the raccoon population and any raccoon can tear even a big dog apart.
Feb 25, 2008 08:06 PM #17
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Rainer
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