Dog owners have been left heartbroken and distraught after their animal companions died just hours after swimming in ponds that was infected by toxic blue-green algae.

According to Daily Mail, the infection has already spread across the United Kingdom’s lakes and ponds this summer and had already claimed the lives of four dogs in Sussex, Edinburgh, Cheshire, and Northern Ireland.

The dogs reportedly went swimming in the infected water and died hours later.

Two other dog owners in Sheffield and Cornwall also reported that their pets fell ill after swimming into the algae-contaminated water while out on a walk.

Aside from the dogs, the toxic algae had also killed a mother swan and a cygnet on Southampton Common, and Hants. The pond was later on fenced off to avoid other animal deaths.

The toxic algae contain cyanobacteria, which release toxins that cause liver damage to humans and animals who swim in it or ingest it. This toxin could cause anyone to have breathing problems, fits, brain damage, and other fatal conditions in just minutes.

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