Mystery dog illness warning

A VETERINARY charity is issuing an alert to dog owners across the county asking them to stay vigilant for signs of a mystery illness which can kill dogs.

Seasonal Canine Illness claimed the lives of several dogs during autumn 2009, 2010 and 2011, and scientists from the Animal Health Trust expect cases to reoccur again this year too.

Many cases of dogs falling ill with the symptoms of SCI had been walked recently in Notts woodlands Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest.

The Trust says the illness comes on within 24 to 72 hours of dogs walking in woodland in autumn, causes vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy. These clinical signs are common and non-specific, but it is their onset within only a few hours of dogs walking in woodlands that is distinctive.

It advises any dog owners who see these signs in their pet to access veterinary treatment immediately. At present, it is not known what causes SCI.

The Trust’s investigations into the illness focuses on five sites around the country, including Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest. Dr Richard Newton of the Animal Health Trust said: “Our SCI investigation has been ongoing since we were first alerted to the illness in autumn 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.”

The Trust says it has been able to step up its SCI investigation this year thanks to funding from The Kennel Club.

It has been able to hire a dedicated investigator and hopes, with the help of dog owners, to get closer to pinpointing the cause of SCI during 2012.