Dog dies within an hour of visiting ‘Barking Springs’ swimming hole. Toxic algae could be to blame.

Barking Springs is located downstream from the popular Barton Springs

Activity at Barking Springs in August 2012 (Lars Plougmann, Lars Plougmann - Flickr)

AUSTIN, Texas – A visit to Austin’s “Barking Springs” resulted in the death of a dog and city officials believe it might have to do with toxic algae exposure.

City of Austin officials were told the dog died within an hour of swimming at Barking Springs on Sunday.

Barking Springs is located just downstream from the famed swimming spot Barton Springs.

The Austin Watershed Protection Department is helping investigate the death.

“The cause of death is unknown at this time, but could be from harmful algae. There is some algae near the shoreline at Barking Springs,” watershed officials said in a Tweet Tuesday.

“City scientists observed a few isolated mats of algae near rocks in this area and have taken samples for testing,” according to a press release.

“Given the very hot temperatures and drought conditions, harmful algae could easily be present in any creek, lake or pond at this time,” city officials said.

Multiple dogs have died after swimming in watering holes around Austin over the past several years.

Watershed officials said neurotoxins, which can be fatal to dogs, have been detected from all monitoring sites on Lady Bird Lake and from Emma Metropolitan Park on Lake Austin.

They are advising people and their pets to rinse off after being in the water and to avoid touching or ingesting algae.

Extreme drought in Central Texas has caused issues at many watering holes in the region, including Pedernales Falls State Park.

“The heat combined with the algae blooms, stagnation, and potential bacteria growth, makes swimming an activity we would not recommend it at this time,” park officials said.

They also noted that the sand and rocks in the area are hot enough to burn skin and dog paws.

If you or a family member or pet have sudden, unexplained illness after swimming or signs of poisoning, call your medical provider or veterinarian right away or the Texas Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

About the Author:

Mary Claire Patton has been a journalist with KSAT 12 since 2015. She has reported on several high-profile stories during her career at KSAT and specializes in trending news and things to do around Texas and San Antonio.