PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Three dogs in North Carolina died within five hours of being exposed to toxic algae after playing in a pond. 

It's just one of several cases where dogs died after swimming in what's believed to be cyanobacteria. 

The owners have shared their story with hopes to warn and educate other pet owners about the dangers.  

[WATCH: Arizona dog parents warned about potential of toxic algae in ponds]

Arizona's Family talked to local veterinarian Travis Wodiske with Family VetCare in Ahwatukee who said a similar case could happen in Arizona. 

He hasn't had any recent cases, but says, "We have treated dogs [we] suspected were exposed to blue-green algae toxicity." 

He estimated his last suspected case was about a year and a half ago. 

Some of the symptoms dogs may exhibit when exposed to the toxic algae include lethargy, not being able to walk well, muscle tremors, seizures, vomiting and diarrhea. 

[RELATED: 3 dogs die hours after playing in pond filled with toxic algae]

Wodiske says it's terrible "mostly because it causes the liver to go into failure" that can lead to death.  

Wodiske added that noticing the algae isn't always so obvious and to be aware animals are not just exposed by drinking the water. They could lick off the bacteria. 

"If that algae has dried, and they step in it and/or they roll in it, it can get onto their fur," he said. 

Erin Jordan, an Arizona Department of Environmental Quality spokesperson, confirmed blue-green algae are found in Arizona and can be harmful to public health for humans and dogs.

However, "without more information, it can't be determined if the same type of algae found in the North Carolinian incident is found in Arizona," she wrote in an email. 

"People and dogs should avoid recreating in areas that have an algal bloom. Algal blooms can look like foam, scum or mats on or just below the surface of water, and can take on various colors depending on their pigments," Jordan added.

If you see what you think are algal blooms, you can report it using the Arizona Water Watch app.

Gilbert has the award-winning Cosmo Dog Park, and town officials assured it's safe for dogs to swim in, even though there are visible algae at the dog beach park shoreline and surface. 

Marshall MacFarlane, the Town of Gilbert's Parks and Facilities Manager, said it contracts with a specialty company, H2Ology which tests the water twice a week and adjusts the levels as necessary. 

"There's different type of algae. We test it. To this date, there's never been any of the substances to the level that would be harmful to animals," added MacFarlane. 

However, like the signs caution, "Use of dog park and lake is at your own risk." 

"Be aware and simply be observant," warned Wodiske. "As hiking season and camping season is upon us, and we take our dogs on these outdoor adventures, we've seen it. Our dogs get so excited to be out there and be active. So, the challenge is trying to reach that body of water at the same time or before your dog so you can observe the water; make sure it doesn't look contaminated." 

Wodiske said it’s important for pet parents to be aware, and if you aren’t sure, "it’s better to be safe than sorry."


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