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‘Mystery’ dog disease not linked to beaches but numbers ‘more widespread’ than usual 

The mystery dog disease first reported in Yorkshire has now officially been named an outbreak, as higher levels than expected have been reported in the last three weeks.  

According to the University of Liverpool’s Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET), latest data confirms there is an increase of gastrointestinal disease affecting dogs around the country, with levels in Yorkshire high enough to qualify as an outbreak. 

However, the disease has not been linked to visiting beaches, as the majority of dogs observed by SAVSNET (79%) had not visited the beach prior to becoming ill and many cases were reported inland (away from the coast. 

What’s more, although rumours on social media were pointing to a ‘Covid’ of dogs, there is nothing to support the theory, with SAVSNET Project Coordinator Bethaney Brant highlighting that the cause is unknown but highly infectious.  

Affected dogs usually make a full recovery with appropriate care and there is no known risk to people

Bethaney Brant, SAVSNET

In addition, the majority (56%) of the 88 owners who had more than one dog reported that other dogs in the household had also shown similar signs possibly suggesting in infectious cause. 

“Thankfully affected dogs usually make a full recovery with appropriate care and there is no known risk to people,” Brant added. 

“Owners of suspect cases should contact their veterinary practice for advice.” 

The British Veterinary Association President Justine Shotton also noted: “At this time, we can’t speculate on what might be causing the symptoms, and there is currently no evidence to suggest a direct link between the illness and the dogs visiting the beaches.  

“We’ve heard reports from vets in the area who are really far inland and they are also seeing an increase in these kinds of cases in dogs that have never been to the beach, so I’m not sure yet if we have enough information to make that link. 

“While pet owners are understandably worried, the cases may be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis that vets see during the colder months. We saw something similar a couple of years ago, and the latest data from the University of Liverpool’s veterinary surveillance database points to the spike being part of normal seasonal variation at the moment.” 

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