Leading veterinary charity the Animal Health Trust has issued an alert to dog owners across the United Kingdom, warning them to stay vigilant for clinical signs of a mystery illness that can kill dogs.
Leading veterinary charity the Animal Health Trust (AHT) is issuing an alert to dog owners across the United Kingdom, warning them to stay vigilant for clinical signs of a mystery illness that can kill dogs.
Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) claimed the lives of several dogs during autumn 2009, 2010 and 2011, and AHT scientists expect cases to reoccur from late August 2012.
The illness which comes on very quickly, usually with 24 to 72 hours of dogs walking in woodland in autumn, causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy.
Although the clinical signs are common and non-specific, it is their onset within only a few hours of dogs walking in woodlands that is distinctive. The AHT is advising any dog owners who see these signs in their pet to access veterinary treatment immediately.
Richard Newton of the AHT said: “Our SCI investigation has been ongoing since we were first alerted to the illness in the autumn of 2010. Since then we have had more and more cases reported to us each autumn, but thankfully the number of dogs which are surviving has increased. We hope this is due to more owners being aware of the signs of SCI and accessing veterinary help as soon as possible.”
Thanks to funding from The Kennel Club, the AHT has been able to step up its SCI investigation in 2012 and employ a dedicated SCI investigator. With the help of dog owners, the AHT hopes to get closer to pinpointing the cause of SCI during 2012.
The AHT’s investigation continues at five previously-affected sites across the UK:
- Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
- Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk
- Sandringham Estate, Norfolk
- Sherwood Forest*, Nottinghamshire
- Thetford Forest, Norfolk.
Dog owners who have walked at any of the five sites are asked to complete an online questionnaire.
Dr Newton, said: “We desperately need information from dogs who have been walked at any of our study sites, even if they did not become ill. The information we can glean from owners of dogs who walked at the sites and didn’t show clinical signs of SCI is just as important to our investigation as information from affected dogs.”
While investigations are focused on five specific sites, the AHT has warned that dogs could be at risk of SCI walking in ANY woodland during autumn, and advises owners to remain vigilant and seek veterinary advice immediately if they suspect their dog has the illness.
- For further information on SCI or the AHT’s investigations, visit www.aht.org.uk/sci