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Published: Jun 28, 2012

Swimming is one of the best ways to help your dog cool off in the hot summer months, but you might want to beware of a toxic problem in the water that can affect dogs - algae. Many types of algae are not toxic to dogs, but some are, according to

Red tide is one common example of algae in the water, and cases of another type, blue green algae, have been reported in the Charles River in Boston this summer. It is the algae's first appearance there since 2010.

This type of algae looks like green paint or silly string on the surface of the water, according to Julie Wood, a senior scientist with the Charles River Watershed Association in Massachusetts.

"The river is not closed. People should pretty much use their own discretion, avoid direct contact as much as possible, obviously avoid ingestion, which is a good idea anyway," Wood told the news outlet.

Toxic algae can cause upset stomach, pain and itching in dogs, and can be fatal in some instances. Algae poses a threat when it comes in contact with the animal's skin or when it is ingested. If you or your dog does come into contact with a poisonous algae this summer, officials recommend rinsing off immediately.

If you are wondering whether algae will be a problem in the lakes, ponds and streams in you area this summer, ask your veterinarian if they have heard of any cases. It may not be an issue at all for your region.