Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) becomes a threat to UK pets between August and November of each year.Veterinarians are urging owners to keep an eye out for symptoms after seeing a few cases reported this year.
First reports of the disease date back to 2009, and so far very little is known about it. Dogs affected by Seasonal Canine Illness will begin vomiting, usually 72 hours after a walk through a woodland area. It’s often accompanied by diarrhea and lethargy. Symptoms become severe very quickly, and can become fatal. Veterinarians usually see cases of SCI peak in September. According to the Eastern Daily Press, Haven Vets in Great Yarmouth have seen two cases so far this year which prompted them to post a warning to pup parents on Facebook.
What you should know
- Seasonal Canine Illness seems to be exclusive to the UK. There have been no reports of the disease affecting dogs anywhere else.
- The exact cause of the disease is unknown, but veterinarians suspect harvest mites, or “autumn chiggers” may be responsible. Dogs who are affected are likely to begin showing symptoms 24 -72 hours after being outdoors in a woodland area.
- Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If your dog has any of these symptoms, it’s important to keep him hydrated and see your veterinarian immediately.
- Because the cause is unknown, treatment varies. Your vet may recommend a drip to replace fluids lost by your dog and antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Dogs of any size, breed, or gender can be affected.
- Many cases go undiagnosed, so it’s difficult to say how many dogs become infected per year. However, the number of fatal cases has decreased since the disease became prominent in 2010.
What you can do
Although harvest mites have not been confirmed as the cause of SCI, veterinarians recommend being wary of them anyway. Harvest mites lay their eggs in damp soil in grassy or wooded areas, and then wait in grass for a host from which to feed.
- Check your dog for mites, especially around his ears, head, groin, and in the spaces between his legs and body.
- There are no licensed repellents that will repel harvest mites, but Animal Health Trust reports that fipronil spray, which is only available through a vet, may offer some protection. Ask your vet.
- Keep an eye out for symptoms 24 – 72 hours after a trip outdoors, especially if you’ve visited an area new to your dog. Dogs are more likely to catch SCI in an unfamiliar place. Look for vomiting, lethargy, and diarrhea.
- Dogs are less likely to catch SCI if kept on a leash.
- Keep your dog hydrated – especially if begins to vomit or have watery stools, as he can become dehydrated quickly.
- Get to your vet right away if you see symptoms and be certain to let them know if your dog was recently walked in a wooded area.
The AHT is working hard to discover the cause of Seasonal Canine Illness so that the ideal treatment can be administered to dogs who have it. But for now, they recommend raising awareness so that the disease can be recognized by dog owners before it becomes fatal.
“The most important thing that can be done to help save lives today is to raise awareness of SCI amongst dog owners. All dog walkers should be aware of a sudden illness after a woodland walk, typically including sickness, diarrhea and lethargy, and to seek veterinary attention immediately.”
Visit aht.org.uk to learn more about Seasonal Canine Illness, and donate to the AHT’s ongoing research on the disease.
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