The president of the British Veterinary Association (BVA), Justine Shotton, has advised owners not to panic following a rise in gastroenteritis-like symptoms in dogs across the North East.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s PM programme on Friday (14 January), Dr Shotton highlighted that there was not enough evidence to say whether there are any possible links to beaches or other environmental factors.
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She said: “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.”
Dr Shotton also stated that during the colder months, it is common to see a rise in gastroenteritis cases, adding: “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.
“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.”