Facts about fatal dog illness

Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire
Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire is one of the affected sites Photo: PA Pictures

What clinical signs are associated with Seasonal Canine Illness?

The most common are vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, reluctance to move, loss of appetite, shaking or trembling, and in some cases high temperature. These signs can appear quickly, between 24 and 72 hours of having walked in a woodland area.

What should I do if my dog experiences any of the these signs?

Contact your vet immediately.

Can it be passed to other dogs?

There is no evidence at the moment that Seasonal Canine Illness can be passed from dog to dog. In some cases dog owners with more than one dog have only had one case, even when all the dogs walked together. In other cases, all dogs that have been walked together have been affected. However, until the cause is found the possibility that the disease is contagious cannot be ruled out.

What is the risk of my dog being affected?

At the moment, it is difficult to assess the risk of dogs being affected as the cause of Seasonal Canine Illness remains unknown. The risk is probably lower in winter and spring with very few cases being reported between the end of November and the end of August. The majority of cases are reported in September and October, however it is important to remember that even during these months only a small proportion of dogs walking in woodland areas are affected.

What are the likely causes?

There are a number of theories; none of them have been confirmed. Research is still ongoing.

What is being done in the way of testing?

The Environment Agency tested natural water sources in some affected areas for the presence of blue-green algae. The test results were negative.

Natural England tested samples in some affected areas in Nottinghamshire and ruled out manufactured poisons (carbamates, metaldehyde, organophosphates, paraquat, diquat, rodenticides and strychnine).

What advice is being given about walking with dogs in woodland areas?

The advice is to be vigilant and if you have any concerns, contact your vet immediately. Although the evidence suggests it is a seasonal illness it is best to stay vigilant at all times of the year.