An illness prevalent during the autumn months can be fatal to dogs but Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) is still a relatively unknown disease to dog owners.
Although it is a largely uncommon illness, there have been cases in East Anglia, the Midlands and Nottinghamshire with dogs dying as a result. Acting fast could save a dog's life, however.
Here the experts at the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals (PDSA) explains everything you need to know about Seasonal Canine Illness.
What is Seasonal Canine Illness?
SCI is an illness picked up by dogs during the autumn months - most notably from September to November in woodland areas.
The illness can affect any dog, however, research by The Animal Health Trust found that smaller dogs may be more susceptible to picking it up.
"It’s more common in certain areas of England, including East Anglia, the Midlands and Nottinghamshire," PDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan added.
What causes Seasonal Canine Illness?
SCI is often described as a 'mystery illness' because it has no confirmed cause and the only thing that connects most suspected cases is that the disease is borne through harvest mites in woodland areas.
"Dogs with the disease often are found to have ‘harvest mites’ – small red parasites that congregate around the fur between the paw pads and ears – so it’s thought they might have something to do with the disease, though this isn’t proven yet," Anderson-Nathan explained.
Because there is no known cause of the disease, vets cannot advise on how to prevent dogs from getting it but there are early signs to look out for.
"Because we don’t know what causes SCI, it’s difficult to advise how to prevent it. However, it’s important to be vigilant for the signs after walking in woodlands, and check your pets’ paws and ears for tiny bright red mites."
What are the symptoms?
SCI can be fatal and a dogs have died in the past from getting the illness so it is imperative dog owners act fast if dogs start to show any symptoms.
According to the PDSA, the symptoms of SCI are:
Loss of appetite
“If you see any of the signs, it’s important to take your pet to the vet,” Anderson-Nathan said.
“Mostly these symptoms will be caused by something a lot more benign, like a simple tummy upset, but it’s always better to get your pet checked out to rule out anything more serious.
"Seasonal Canine Illness usually comes on quickly, within 72 hours of a woodland walk. Raising awareness of this disease will mean dog owners know what signs to look out for, and can get prompt treatment from their vets.
"The good news is that pets with SCI that receive rapid, intensive veterinary treatment
usually recover well.”