The Lower Colorado River Authority is warning people and their pets to avoid contact with algae as a dog died after swimming in Lake Travis.

The dog died July 4 after swimming in the lake near Point Venture, leading biologists to collect algae samples for testing on July 5, LCRA Public Information Officer Clara Tuma said. Test results will not be available for several days, she said.

What you need to know

People should keep their pets out of Lake Travis around Point Venture and away from algae in the Highland Lakes, including Lake Travis, according to LCRA information. The agency is awaiting test results to determine whether blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, in Lake Travis produced toxins that are dangerous to people and animals known as cyanotoxins.

These harmful algal blooms typically occur during the summer when they are triggered by warm water temperatures, stagnant water, sunlight and excess nutrients, according to the LCRA.

Exposure to cyanotoxins can come through direct skin contact with algae and ingesting water or contaminated food. Dogs are most at risk of exposure through ingesting algae and licking their fur after swimming.

Over the past three years, the LCRA has not detected cyanotoxins at harmful levels in the water but has regularly detected high concentrations of toxins in the algae itself, according to the agency. The LCRA monitors cyanotoxins in Lake Travis, Inks Lake, Lake Buchanan, Lake Marble Falls, Lake LBJ, Lake Bastrop and Lake Fayette.

Keep in mind

People can help keep their pets safe from harmful algae toxins by:
  • Avoiding stagnant areas with algae
  • Not letting dogs consume algae, lake water or other shoreline debris
  • Not letting dogs lick their paws or fur after swimming
  • Rinsing their dogs after swimming
  • Providing clean, fresh drinking water
  • Taking their dogs to a veterinarian immediately if they become sick after swimming
According to the LCRA, symptoms of exposure to toxicity, which can occur within minutes, include:
  • Drooling
  • Rashes
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Weakness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of energy and appetite
  • Stumbling and falling
  • Foaming at the mouth
  • Seizures
  • Death
In case you missed it

The city of Austin has detected cyanotoxins in Lady Bird Lake and Lake Austin over the past few years. Toxic blue-green algae killed several dogs that swam in Lady Bird Lake in 2019 and was ruled the likely cause of death of a dog that died after swimming in Barton Creek in 2022.

The Austin Watershed Protection Department is in its fourth year of a five-year program to apply a clay treatment in Lady Bird Lake that aims to reduce phosphorus levels needed for harmful algae to grow, according to city of Austin information.

The department will complete its second application of the treatment at some sites on July 15, including Red Bud Isle.