Is there danger lurking in a San Jose birdbath coated in red algae?

DEAR JOAN: I pressure wash my birdbath two or three times per week and add fresh water, but red algae has appeared.

Is this something I need to clean out?  We have a steady line of customers for the birdbath, and no ill effects apparent. Should I be more diligent cleaning my birdbath?

John P. Bronson, San Jose

DEAR JOHN: Most algae, including the red variety, is harmless to birds, but it can discourage them from using the bath, and it can make your birdbath a bit of an eyesore.

There are a couple of things you can do. Red algae thrives in the sunshine, so you could try relocating the birdbath to a shadier spot.

You also can do a more thorough cleaning using diluted vinegar or diluted bleach; you’ll need to make sure the birdbath is well-rinsed. Empty the bath, use your power washer, refill the bath as full as you can and then add a cup of either vinegar or bleach.

Cover the bath with a black plastic trash bag and secure it in place. You don’t want it coming off and risk the birds thinking the bath is open for business. Let the solution sit for at least 15 minutes in the sun — the plastic will absorb heat and along with the vinegar or bleach will help kill any lingering spores.

Remove the plastic and dump the water on bare ground or on a patch of weeds, then really rinse the basin to remove traces of the vinegar or bleach. If you aren’t sure, give it a sniff test. If you smell the cleaner, keep rinsing. Better to be safe. Let it dry in the sun.

DEAR JOAN: My dog doesn’t have any breed. He came from the street and he is 1 year old.

I am just concerned because he always puts his tongue out and then breathes fast. He also has zoomies when he’s on the leash. I would just like to ask if this is completely normal.

Pearl Danielle Acolentaba Contreras, Bay Area

DEAR PEARL: Those are normal behaviors, unless they are happening at abnormal times.

If your dog is sitting quietly in a cool space and then starts panting, there could be an issue with his breathing. If he’s hot and tired, the panting would be normal. Dogs cool off through their tongues and the pads of their feet, so when his tongue is hanging out, it’s likely he’s hot and trying to cool down. If that’s not the case, then take him to the vet for a check-up.

Many dogs get the zoomies, often after having relieved themselves or in the evening before bedtime. They are just so darned happy they can’t restrain themselves and zoom around. If your dog is zooming at other times, and while on his leash, he could do with some leash training. It could be, having been a street dog, that he hasn’t gotten the hang of walking with a leash yet.

Practice with him, rewarding him for good behavior and pausing the walk every time he starts going a little wild. Use a strong, but not harsh voice, and don’t punish him. I’m sure he’s doing the best he can and will, with work, eventually take to it.

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