Urgent warning for dog owners after 'hundreds' of pups fall sick with mystery illness

19 January 2022, 20:37 | Updated: 19 January 2022, 20:49

Veterinary experts have issued an urgent warning to all dog owners after spike in pets falling ill
Veterinary experts have issued an urgent warning to all dog owners after spike in pets falling ill. Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Veterinary experts have issued an urgent warning to all dog owners after "hundreds" of pets fall ill with a mystery illness.

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Owners across the UK have reported a spike in poorly pups experiencing vomiting and diarrhoea after visiting popular walking spots across the coast.

Cases of dogs falling ill have been reported at Hayling Island beach and Langstone Harbour in Hampshire, Fraisthorpe Beach in East Riding, Bridlington and Redcar beach.

But the British Veterinary Association (BVA) confirmed there have been further reports of the mystery illness from vets "who are really far inland" adding they are also seeing an increase in these kinds of cases in dogs that have never been to the beach.

One worried pet owner shared her "heartbreaking" experience of the unknown illness on Facebook, writing: "Sunday we took [my dog Copper] to Fraisthorpe beach and ever since he's had sickness and diarrhoea and the last 24 hours unable to keep water down.

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"The ones who know him know he's normally very lively and always wanting to play so for him to be very sleepy and just not interested isn't like him at all.

"We have taken him to the vets this morning who have given him an anti sickness jab and got to keep an eye on him over the next 24 hours.

"Please just be careful as it has been heartbreaking and very worrying seeing our little pup so unwell. Hopefully he's going to be on the mend now."

The first warning of the illness came from vet group Yorkshire Coast Pet Care, who took to social media to say: "I work within several practices up and down the North East coast and we have recently been inundated with dogs coming off the beaches with vomiting and diarrhoea.

"Personally until the local authorities have got to the bottom of it I would not recommend taking your pets on the beach for the foreseeable future.

"I have been in touch with governing bodies and they are currently looking into it. If your dog is showing symptoms please make the local authorities aware as well as seeking veterinary attention should your pet need it. Stay safe."

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However, BVA President Justine Shotton explained there is not yet enough evidence to speculate on the reasons for the spike in cases or any possible links to beaches or other environmental factors.

She advised owners not to panic and to talk to their vet in case of any concerns: "We are aware of a recent spike in cases of dogs falling ill from gastroenteritis-like symptoms in several parts of Yorkshire and North East England. Vets see gastroenteritis cases relatively commonly in practice, but numbers seem to be increasing and more widespread than usual.

"At this time, we can't speculate on what might be causing the symptoms, and there is currently no evidence to suggest a direct link between the illness and the dogs visiting the beaches. 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.

"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."

Pointing to a possible seasonal link to the cases, she added: "While pet owners are understandably worried, the cases may be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis that vets see during the colder months."

Dr Shotton also encouraged veterinary practices to report any cases to help researchers in their investigations.