The British Veterinary Association is urging pet owners to take extra precautions while walking their dogs following an increase in reports of toxic blue-green algae in Scotland.

Blue-green algae blooms may appear as green or greenish-brown scum on the surface of water and can contain toxins that can be harmful for animals if ingested, even in small quantities.

Dogs can swallow this algae by drinking water from an affected loch, river or pond or while licking their fur after going for a swim.

Symptoms of exposure can appear within a few minutes or hours and commonly include: vomiting, diarrhoea, drooling, disorientation, trouble breathing, seizures and blood in faeces. If left untreated, it can cause liver damage and ultimately be fatal.

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Daniella Dos Santos, of the BVA, said: “Prompt veterinary treatment is essential.”