What is Seasonal Canine Illness?
Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) is a very serious and can be a potentially life threatening illness that to this day has no known cause. It mostly affects dogs that have been walked in woodland areas around 1-3 days prior to the owner noticing anything is wrong with their dog
In 2009 on the Sandringham Estate in Norfolk was when Seasonal Canine Illness was first identified. Also around this time there were other reports that dogs that had been walked in Thetford, Rendlesham and Sherwood Forest had signs of SCI
Since 2009 the most common time for cases falls between August and November with September being the peak time, hence the name Seasonal Canine Illness.
What are the causes of Seasonal Canine Illness?
As yet there is no hard evidence on the cause of Seasonal Canine Illness.
Harvest mights are one of the suggested culprits as many of the dogs that have the disease are also found to have the mites. The most common time for SCI also coincides with the time when the harvest mites larvae are at the highest numbers. However, the harvest mights in the UK are not know to carry or be able to transmit any diseases, so research is on going.
Many experts thought that natural toxics like fungi, algae and other plant matter were a possible cause but most of these have since been ruled out.
More research is being carried out at Nottingham University and the Animal Health Trust to try and further the knowledge of the disease.
How would I tell if my dog has it?
The main signs of Seasonal Canine Illness are diarrhoea, vomiting and gut upset normally within 72 hours of walking in a wooded area.
There are other signs and these can include loss of appetite, stomach pains, and very low energy. A high temperature may also be present and in a few cases a rash has been found on the dogs body and legs.
What should I do if any of these signs are showing?
If you think your dog has Seasonal Canine Illness, especially vomiting & diarrhoea then call your vet as soon as possible, they will advise next steps.
All of these symptons can obviously have a wide range of other causes so the vet will have to see the dog to be sure SCI is present. There is no medical test that can actually confirm the presence of Seasonal Canine Illness.
How is Seasonal Canine Illness treated?
Diagnosing SCI is very difficult which makes it hard to treat. As lots of other dog illnesses can appear very very similar to Seasonal Canine Illness, the vet will often find it easier to exclude other conditions first to narrow the options.
A lot of suspected SCI dogs receive treatment in hospital via intravenous drip to provide fluids and medications to help settled the dog.
Often dogs will be well enough to go home with some oral medicine depending on the seriousness of the illness. If harvest mites are also found the vet will probably suggest some treatment for these as well.
Can I prevent my dog getting Seasonal Canine Illness?
As this is quite a rare disease and the actual cause is unknown its very hard to give people advice on how to avoid it.
As the cases are infrequent and randomly dotted around the UK nobody can actually give any specific areas a “no-go” action.
What is known is that almost all cases are where a dog has been walked in wooded areas around these months of the year. Sprays are available that kills mites that are on the dog, this could be sprayed on the dogs feet after the walk.
How treatable is Seasonal Canine Illness?
SCI can be a life threatening disease with 20% of dogs that developed it in 2010 died as a result. With the increased awareness and people prompt action this statistic dropped to 2% death rate in 2012. The current recover time is around 7 – 10 days and with the continued research perhaps we can get that 2% down to 0%
More info can be found at the Animal Health Trust