Owner calls for 'dog lockdown' as mystery illness spreads from Yorkshire coast

An owner is calling for a "dog lockdown" after hundreds of animals were struck down with a mystery illness first reported on the Yorkshire coast.

Nicola Walker, from Leeds, said she was inundated with responses after posting online about how her dog, Bullet, had become seriously ill.

Owners have reported dogs experiencing symptoms including vomiting and passing blood after visiting popular walking sites.

Vets say it is a normal winter bug, but Nicola said: "I keep saying we need a little doggy lockdown. It's popular dog walking areas that are becoming troublesome."

It was originally believed that the mystery illness could have been caused by pollution, but the Environment Agency said that is not the case, given the rapid way it has spread inland.

There were also concerns it could have been linked to the hundreds of dead crabs and lobsters that have been washed up.

Nicola said her dog bullet became ill after going for a walk by the Hunslet Canal in Leeds. Credit: ITV News

Nicola said Bullet became seriously ill about three days after a walk. He suddenly became lethargic and started foaming and vomiting.

"The vet said he had become dehydrated and couldn't fight anything off so he developed an infection. If we hadn't gone to the vet then he wouldn't have survived," she said.

"So many people have told me the same has happened to their dog - I found out today that one Bassett hound locally has just died.

"My advice is to avoid all dog walking spots and to act quickly before dehydration sets in."

One veterinary nurse said the wider reach of the virus is a consequence of lockdown.

Laura Rose said: "More people have bought dogs and so it's spreading faster basically because there are more dogs.

"It's a normal winter virus but it seems more worrying because there are more dogs catching it.

"Most dogs will be fine, but if they stop eating and drinking that's when you should act - because once dogs refuse to eat and drink it's harder to get them better and more likely to result in a hospital stay."

The British Veterinary Association has said that most cases are mild but are advising dog owners to check with their vet if their dog is off food.

Defra, the government Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said it was aware of the concerns and the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) had also been alerted.