PEOPLE are being warned to be vigilant about where they allow their pets to swim after a dog died after swimming in the River Kent.
The dog had been swimming in the River Kent close to Sandy Bottoms shortly before falling ill on Thursday.
Information from a vet suggests the symptoms were consistent with those that may be experienced if the dog had come into contact with blue-green algae.
South Lakeland District Council has informed the Environment Agency, which has responsibility for water sampling in rivers, about the incident.
In humans contact with blue-green algae blooms and associated algal scum should be avoided as skin rashes may occur if affected water is in direct contact with the skin and illness may occur if the water is swallowed.
It can, however, sometimes prove fatal for pets or livestock that come into contact with blue-green algae or drink water containing the algae and pet owners and farmers are strongly advised to keep animals away from affected areas.
An SLDC spokesman said: “Although it has yet to be confirmed whether blue-green algae is present in this part of the river we are conscious that this area is popular with dog walkers and families and we believe it is the responsible thing to do to issue this warning.
“We would ask that the public are aware of the potential risks and to be careful if using the river for recreational purposes if they have any concerns about the quality of the water.
“We would also recommend that members of the public only swim in designated bathing areas, that are subject to routine water monitoring.’’
Further information about blue-green algae can be found on the Environment Agency’s website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk
To report incidents of blue-green algae blooms or scums call the Environment Agency incident hotline on 0800 80 70 60.