If you bring your pets anywhere near a lake, stream or even a backyard pond, there is a deadly risk to be on the lookout for.

Veterinarian Karen Becker of healthypets.com writes that between 2007 and 2011, 13 states reported 67 cases of dogs poisoned by blue-green algae. This is not the same type of blue-green algae, also known as "spirulina", that many pet owners give their pets and is considered to be a "superfood". This particular strain contains cyanobacteria, deadly microorganisms found even in backyard ponds.

There is no way to tell if a blue-green algal bloom is toxic by looking at it. The harmful blooms look like pea soup, green paint, or floating mats of scum. They sometimes have a bad smell. But these blooms aren't always large and dense and can be present in a lake with little visible algae. Before you, your children, or your pets go into the water, look at the lake closely to see if there is algae on the water or on the shore."

Preventing contact is crucial since any type of exposure can cause death within hours.

Symptoms depend on the toxin involved. Toxins that attack the liver cause elevated liver enzymes, low blood sugar, low protein and occasionally, abnormal clotting activity. These toxins can result in liver damage or failure and immediate aggressive treatment is necessary to save the animal. Exposure to another type of toxin found in blue-green algae, anatoxins, results in nervous system symptoms and can bring death in minutes to hours due to respiratory paralysis."

The best thing to do is to avoid any type of exposure. Any body of greenish water can be a fatal hazard. Any type of exposure is a medical emergency.

It's important to understand that no antidote currently exists for the toxins produced by blue-green algae. If you suspect your pet has been exposed, rinse him with fresh water, administer high-potency homeopathic Nux Vomica if possible and seek immediate emergency veterinary care."

Keep your pets safe and stay away.

For more on the dangers and symptoms, click here for healthypets.com