A “mystery” vomiting bug affecting dogs in the North of England may be a normal seasonal illness common during spells of cold weather, vets have explained.
Media reports about dogs presenting with gastroenteritis-like symptoms in parts of North East England and Yorkshire have prompted speculation that they could be linked to visits to local beaches.
However, British Veterinary Association (BVA) President Justine Shotton said that there was not enough evidence at present to speculate on the reasons for the spike in cases, or any possible links to beaches or other environmental factors.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme, Shotton said: “Vets see gastroenteritis cases relatively commonly in practice, but numbers seem to be increasing and more widespread than usual.
“We’ve heard reports from vets in the area who are really far inland and they are also seeing an increase in these kinds of cases in dogs that have never been to the beach, so I’m not sure yet if we have enough information to make that link.
“While pet owners are understandably worried, the cases may be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis that vets see during the colder months. We saw something similar a couple of years ago and the latest data from the University of Liverpool’s veterinary surveillance database points to the spike being part of normal seasonal variation at the moment.”
She added: “With gastroenteritis, most cases are mild, but some dogs may need hospitalisation with a drip. In the worst situations, it can become haemorrhagic leading to secondary complications or even death, but that is very rare.
“Our advice to concerned owners is to contact their local vet for prompt treatment if their dog shows any signs of illness, such as vomiting and diarrhoea.”