A dog has died from suspected exposure to deadly algae near Horsham, leading to a warning from a veterinary group.
According to Edric Cross, clinical director of Arun Veterinary Group, the dog was swimming in Wephurst Wood near Loxwood in the Chichester district recently when it was thought to have come into contact with the deadly algae.
It blooms at this time of year and releases toxins which can cause serious damage to the liver or nervous system, leading to seizures, liver failure and in some cases death. There have been reports of dogs collapsing and dying 15 minutes after coming into contact from the algae, either by drinking contaminated water or licking their fur clean, Mr Cross claimed.
After the swim, the dog fell ill and was taken to Arun Veterinary Group's out-of-hours hospital in Storrington by South Downs Emergency Vets. It was put down after being unconscious and seizuring for six hours, Mr Cross said.
He said another dog that was swimming there at the same time was unaffected.
The Environment Agency was informed and would investigate whether there is an algal bloom there.
The veterinary director was keen to point out that although the dead dog's symptoms were consistent with blue-green algae exposure, it can take 10 working days to find out if it is present in a body of water.
He said: "It is a well-recognised problem at this time of year, and our concern is to be sure that people walking their dogs should be very careful of letting their dogs swim in any pond."
On Monday, Mr Cross said that the Environment Agency's tests could not find evidence of blue green algae in the lake, but their advice remained the same.