It seems there has been an increase in stories involving dogs dying soon after swimming in lakes containing slimy blue-green algae.  Sadly, the threat is real and can exist in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency says that the blue-green algae can occur at anytime in the summer, but seems to be more prevalent when there are warmer temps and minimal rainfall.

They also say that the algae is a natural part of the ecosystem and most blue-green algae are not toxic, but it's impossible to differentiate harmless algae from the deadly variety by simply looking at it, so it's best to avoid any lake that contains algae.

If your pet does go into water that has heavy algae growth, the MPCA says:

Hose it off right away, before it has a chance to lick itself clean. Animals become ill when they ingest the toxins, so preventing them from drinking affected water or licking toxins from their coat is key to preventing illness.

If you are concerned that your pet has been exposed to harmful blue-green algae, take the animal to a veterinarian immediately.

The toxic algae is also dangerous to humans, but human deaths due to algae exposure is extremely rare as most people would not enter a body of water containing slimy, stinky blue-green algae.  You'll likely see it floating on or coating the surface of the water.

To good news is with rainfall, wind and other natural occurring conditions, the algae can disappear from bodies of water pretty quickly.