It is well known that dogs love their walks and going exploring or playing fetch in the woods is a great way for your dog to get some exercise; but as dog owners it is important to keep an eye on your pet and be aware that there are dangers out there. Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) is one of the lesser known hazards and has been a major concern for dog owners since its initial outbreak in the autumn of 2010.
SCI is most prevalent from August to November and the damp, leafy floor of the autumn forest is an ideal breeding ground for this mystery contagion. If caught early SCI can be cured with a course of antibiotics, but if it's left untreated SCI can cause a dog’s health to quickly deteriorate and can potentially result in death.
The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has spent the last three years researching the illness and their work educating dog owners has already resulted in a 90% drop in deaths caused by the infection between 2010 and 2012. Despite this, however, there is still no clear or definitive cause for SCI; which presents itself by causing vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, loss of appetite, high temperature and fatigue.
Research has shown that there are some common themes in reported cases, harvest mites being amongst the most common denominators, and as a result of this trend the AHT recommends that all dog owners ensure their dogs are up to date on their parasite prevention treatments by the end of July. AHT’s research has also uncovered that dogs living closer to known sites of infection can build a resistance to SCI, and that the lack of any new species of plant or fungi being discovered at the sites of contamination suggest that it is unlikely SCI is caused by a naturally occurring toxin.
Evidence also suggests that it cannot be transmitted from one dog to another, but the AHT is still conducting research into the causes of SCI and urges dog owners to remain aware of the danger that the illness poses to their pets.
The AHT has learned what it has about SCI with the help of dog owners, and continues to collect detailed information that will lead to a deeper understanding of the causes behind the illness. If you find yourself walking with your dog through wooded areas, whether it becomes ill or not, please find and fill out the SCI questionnaire found at http://www.aht.org.uk/.