Vets issue advice for dog owners after increase in canine vomiting bug

Vets have issued advice for worried dog owners about a spike in cases of a canine bug.

By Corinne Macdonald
Monday, 10th February 2020, 1:58 pm
Updated Monday, 10th February 2020, 1:59 pm

The British Veterinary Association (BVA) has issued advice for worried dog owners following a rise in the number of acute gastroenteritis cases being reported in many parts of the country.

Vets and owners have reported cases of dogs being struck by a vomiting bug, with symptoms including more frequent vomiting than is usually seen in canine gastroenteritis cases, accompanied in a few instances by diarrhoea, anorexia and lethargy.

As of Friday February 7, 474 reports had been recorded via a dedicated University of Liverpool veterinary surveillance database, called SAVSNET, since it went live on January 30 2020.

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Stock photo of a dog at the vets.

Most cases are confined to England and Wales, with one in Northern Ireland.

Researchers report that affected dogs usually make a full recovery following prompt veterinary care to treat the symptoms.

However, a small number of deaths have been reported, but it is currently not clear if these are linked to the condition under investigation.

Responding to the reports, British Veterinary Association President Daniella Dos Santos said: “We are aware of a spike in cases of prolific vomiting in dogs being reported by vets in several parts of the country.

"While pet owners are understandably worried, the cases may be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis that vets usually see during the colder months.

“Our advice to owners is to call their local vet for advice in the first instance if their dog shows any of these symptoms. If your dog is ill, we’d encourage minimising contact with other dogs in the vicinity until veterinary advice has been sought.

“BVA is also asking vets to report any cases and controls via a questionnaire on the Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) website, to help researchers build a clearer picture of the outbreak and to investigate if the spike is part of normal seasonal variation or if a specific virus or bacteria is in play.”

Professor Alan Radford, who is helping to coordinate the SAVSNET-University of Liverpool response, said: “Data from vets in practices suggests that gastroenteric disease is unusually increasing, starting from around November 2019.

"When we receive samples (faeces, vomit, saliva) from dogs that meet our case definition of 5 or more vomiting episodes in a 12-hour period, we will be looking to identify any evidence of an infectious cause.”

For the latest updates on the cases, and to complete case and control questionnaires, visit here.