Seasonal Canine Illness

Seasonal canine illness (SCI) is a recently described condition which currently has no known cause. It affects dogs shortly after walking in woodland and can be fatal, though often isn’t if treated early. It’s most commonly seen between August and November, hence the name seasonal.

SCI has been seen in dogs of any age, gender or breed, but doesn’t seem to affect other animals such as cats. Dogs become unwell roughly 24-72 hours after walking in woodland, with symptoms primarily affecting the gastrointestinal tract. These can include signs such as:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • Not eating
  • Muscle tremors.
  • On examination some dogs will have a higher than normal body temperature.

Treatment

Treatment is focussed around the symptoms, and usually includes intra-venous fluid therapy, antibiotics and anti-sickness drugs. The majority of cases recover within a week of treatment.

What is the cause?

Currently, it’s not known what causes Seasonal Canine Illness. The Animal Health Trust are carrying out ongoing research, but at the moment there’s no test to diagnose SCI. Research to-date has ruled out man-made poisons, contaminated water sources, fungi and natural flora as causes. Ectoparasites (such as mites) have been suggested as a trigger, specifically harvest mites as they too are seasonal. Many dogs will pick up harvest mites while out walking and never become unwell; however preventive treatment for mites in the form of a fipronil spray is a simple and safe solution. Please discuss this with our Vets if you wish to treat your dog.

Seasonal Canine Illness remains an uncommon condition, and there are many other causes of vomiting, diarrhoea, and lethargy which are simple to treat.

If you are for any reason concerned about your dog, please contact The Pet Vet for further advice.

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