Dog owners across the UK are advised to remain vigilant and keep a close eye on the health of their pets following news in September that Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) has returned for the fourth successive autumn. The illness, which was first reported in 2009, can arise after walking in the countryside and especially wooded areas. So far the reported cases have all been located over five sites:
- Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
- Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk
- Sandringham Estate, Norfolk
- Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire
- Thetford Forest, Norfolk
There are however fears that the problem could spread further afield and reported cases have risen year on year since 2009.
As yet, what causes SCI is still a mystery. Natural England has carried out a series of tests, which have ruled out man made poisons. The most popular theory focuses on naturally occurring toxins produced by plants, algae and blooms that can be found within these woodland areas. The University of Nottinghamshire has set in place research plans, with students carrying out tests on such toxins. However for now, all dog owners can do is keep a close eye on their furry friend.
Spotting the symptoms
Whilst the number of dogs that have been affected making a recovery is increasing, there is still a chance that the illness can be fatal. It is therefore important to be aware of the symptoms, which tend to appear within 24 hours of walking in the countryside or woodland, but could take up to 72 to surface. Typical symptoms include:
- Shaking and trembling
- High temperature
If your dog is displaying any of the above symptoms following a walk in and around any of the affected areas then you should contact your vet immediately. Even if you have not been for a walk in or around the areas above, but your dog is displaying some of the symptoms, then you may still wish to speak to your vet, as there is no guarantee that the problem hasn’t already spread.
If you live in or near to the affected areas, or just want to be extra cautious, there are a few steps you can take which should help reduce the chances of your dog contracting SCI:
- Pay attention to the where your dog is walking, especially if water is present
- Ensure that your dog is well watered before going for a walk and also take some water with your to prevent them drinking our of puddles, streams etc.
- You may wish to keep your dog on a lead so you can keep close control of it
- Do your best to stop your dog from eating anything off the ground whilst on your walk
- Inform any fellow dog walkers that you bump into about SCI and encourage them to spread the word
Hopefully further research on SCI will reveal more concrete information in the near future and we will have a better understanding of what causes the problem and how it can be avoided. Until then, all dog owners should pay extra close attention to the health of their dog.