Sep 16

Mystery dog illness in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk

A mystery dog illness that took the lives of dogs in 2009 and 2010 is claiming more lives this year. The strange illness seems to be affecting dogs in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk walking in wooded areas.

Mystery dog illness in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk

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The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has launched an investigation into the illness and are asking for dog owners in those regions (and beyond) to take their dogs to a vet if they seem unwell and to provide the AHT with as much information as possible to help narrow down the source of the illness.

Edit (18 Sept 2011): Another 11 cases have just been reported in the Sandringham Estate.  Keep a keen eye out for what is believed to be at the root of the problem which are bacteria, blue-green algae or fungal spores.

The reports of Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) have increased since September so signs are showing it to be an Autumnal occurance.

Reported areas of Seasonal Canine Illness

The main areas indicated so far include Clumber Park and Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire and Sandringham Estate and Thetford Forest in Norfolk. If you have walked your dogs in any of the affected areas the AHT are asking you to complete a questionnaire if your dog became ill or not to try to narrow down specific areas causing the illness. The questionnaire is available at

Although these areas have been specifically identified, all wooded areas are of concern, Richard Newton of the AHT said “We do not believe that dogs are at any more risk walking at the four sites we’re investigating than at any other woodland site. We simply need to limit our investigation area in order to get the most useful data.

“Nearly 400 people completed questionnaires last autumn after walking dogs in these areas but we were also alerted to other areas, across the whole of the UK, where dog owners believe cases had occurred.”

Signs of Seasonal Canine Illness

If after walking in a woodland area your dog shows any of these signs take them to a vet immediately as if left untreated the dog can become fatally ill.

I know I will keep a closer eye on my dogs as we often walk in the woods, especially this time of year when there is so much change all around us.

If you have walked your dogs in any of the affected areas the AHT are asking you to complete a questionnaire if your dog became ill or not to try to narrow down specific areas causing the illness.

47 Responses to “Mystery dog illness in Norfolk, Nottinghamshire and Suffolk”

  1. Derek Robinson says:

    I occasionly walk my dogs on the long marked trail in Sandringham woods. None of my dogs have ever suffered any I’ll effects.

    However as there is plenty of places harbouring stagnent water, my dogs are not allowed anywhere near these areas as I believe this is where many of the problems arise.

  2. Debbie says:

    See the animal health trust website. There is a leaflet which suggests the link to harvest mites and some precautions to take. Please be aware that spot ons like frontline and advocate do not help prevention against harvest mites. Always check legs and in between toes when your pets have been in long grasses or wooded areas. There are 5 study areas like the sandringham estate that are being investigated by the woodlands trust or forestry commission? Dogs trust also have some info on mites and the links to seasonal canine illness.

    • marianne says:

      hi my 6 dogs all walk togeather in Beckley woods east sussex done the usual walk weds afternoon and within 1hr sox my 2yr springer was sick didn’t think anything of it by 4am thurs morning he was being sick with blood in and was unable to move we thought we had lost him got him to vets by 4.20am was warn he wouldn’t pull through then fri night was up all night waiting for a phone call to say he had pass away no call (thank goodness)went to see him this morning sat and theres a slight improvement so hopefully hes over the worse hes had at least 20 units of fluid bags that is loads of antibiotics and pain relief which he is still on hes in no means out of danger yet but if anyone can been honest on any possible side affects after they have recovered I would be very great full 1 point I must add none off my dogs had harvest mites

  3. Debbie says:

    My two yorkies have just recovered from seasonal canine illness, believe me it’s been a very long week. The PDSA hospital had almost given up, but the persistence of my vets to save my pets paid off eventually.. After 2 lots of fluids and maximum intravenous antibiotics, and a lot of care including baths in prescription solution to remove the orange coloured mites. There has been a link recently to harvest mites (August to November) the woodlands trust have just posted warning signs for dog owners in the wood area where we had walked on the Sunday afternoon, by 1 am early Monday morning we had 2 very ill dogs it was that quick to react.. If you see orange almost pollen looking spots on your dogs paws legs, wash / scratch it off immediately, watch for lethargy vomiting or change in toilet habits,or intense itching and get to a vets. hope this helps everyone regards Jedi and Sammy. Yorkiies FromCoventry.

  4. Michelle chambers says:

    my dog is recovering from this mystery illness , woke one morning she was laying in diarrhoea then from that started to refuse food and water …. Started vomiting bile then foam eventually has a little blood both ends…. was put on a drip giving antibiotics and all sorts .this came from thin air?
    I don’t walk woodlands I walked thru a meadow along a main road and passéd a park? coincidence that same week council were out spraying ?? lots of reports in haverhill area different parks and dogs with same symptoms !!! We have emails the council who have forwarded this to environmental health …. the chemical they spray has that affect to dogs when I researched it.

  5. Adam says:

    Hi all. Hadn’t read the comments when i sent my last post .Never knew of any illnesses . I live just outside Birmingham . Moved here with my 2 dogs 15 mths ago. My cross Zara was a very active 16 when i moved here. Within 3 mths of moving here she went very poorly and i lost her. Love both my girls and Shouldnt have favourites but she was my angel . Put it down to old age. I miss you dearly my little princess . Now Daisy my dobby is showing some similar signs. Please god let her be well. I’ll come back here later when we get home from the vets. Hoping im not leaving her in the doggy hospital and won’t be coming home alone . fingers and toes crossed

  6. Adam says:

    Hi. my dog daisy has gone from a bundle of /mischief/fun/love to a lethargic poor thing who can bearly get out of her bed without her back legs giving way.She’s at the vets at 5.30pm today . Im worried sick about her. Sitting with her on the floor next to her bed. Given her an extra pillow but she’s so down. I can see the misery in her eyes .

    • Debbie says:

      I’m so sad that I couldn’t pass on any info to the people and pets on this forum at the time their pets were ill. I relate and understand your comment about the sad/ misery in the eyes, I saw exactly the same in my Jedi and Sammy’s eyes. This illness is devastating to dogs. I carried my two dogs into the pdsa hospital in Coventry expecting to never see them alive again, it broke my heart.. They thankfully pulled through but I was told 7% of the dogs in 2013 had died of SCI. I have put what I know about harvest mites on this site hopefully to help more pets and owners, but can you tell me if Daisy was ok. Hoping all was well

  7. hi, my jack-a-poo had this illnes caught from forests i never new about this ilness untill it was on countrywide,we had taken him to 2 different vets made him better to a point he would still vomit ,might be ok for a few days then vomit again ,then a year later his bark went horse his glans were up ,vet treatment him 4 days later glands were really up,vet tested gland he had aggressive lymph cancer,9 days from bark going horse we have had to put him to sleep,he was my best mate he was with me 24/7 we never left him aione,iv never felt so empty,we called him buddy and thats what he was to me my very best buddy,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,

  8. Liz Jolly says:

    I was walking with a large German Shepherd group last Saturday at Fleet Pond Hants/Berks border. Kaiya my GSD and another dog became really ill with intense vomiting the following day. She was sick all afternoon and into the evening, but was still passing urine. I was watching her mouth as it was a little dry. Stopped food till the next day, not that she wanted any. THe following day, she was still more sleepy than normal, but she ate small frequent meals with gusto and was drinking well. No further sickness. She is now back to normal.

  9. Maureen says:

    We live in Kent and our 14 year old Collie cross went down over Xmas eve night with sickness and weakness in his legs.He was obviously in pain too and vet treated him with anticonvulsant drugs,antibiotics and morphine.We sat up with him 2 nights as we didn’t think he would make it.He’s ok now but it has really taken it out of him.What causes this dreadful illness?

  10. Shelly says:

    I’d never heard of this illness, a friend told me about it last night.
    I wonder if this is what my 14 and 3/4 year old mongrel, Molly, is recovering from. It came on so suddenly and viciously we thought she was dying. She couldn’t keep anything down but was drinking. She was frothing at the mouth after 3 days and what came up was bright yellow slimey liquid. she wouldn’t even try chicken stock and rice or homemeda steak and kidney but she didn’t have a runny bum, she didn’t poo for 10 days. We also made barley water for her which she drank but she was so weak and could barely stand, I had to prop her up for a couple of days and the light was going from her eyes. So we took her to the vet expecting to have her put to sleep, Her temperature was nearly 104 but he gave her an antibiotic shot and 5 days of antibiotic pills.
    It’s taken over 2 wks to get her back to health. We got her eating again with 4 small meals a day of cat food and she’s now eating dog food and enjoying life again, phew and her poos are normal.
    What’s so odd is that we don’t walk in woodland as we have our own land that she bimbles about on with our other dog, william, a jackadoodle but we have trees around the boundaries. Even stranger is that her coat has never looked glossier, even when she was so very poorly.
    I still can’t get over her recovering from this and now every day with her is a bonus, she’s been my best friend for all those years.

  11. jim says:

    i live in scotland and my brother just came back from holidays and collected his dogs from boarding kennels, one has severe diarea (with blood in it )and the other cannot keep food down (also blood in the vommit)this particular kennels may or may not excercise dogs in the local woodland. now awaiting vets diagnostics.

  12. Lisa says:

    Also I have just noticed Steves post… I live in Chapeltown & walk regularly in the park? Near you? X

  13. Lisa says:

    Hi I am interested in the ladies comment regarding sheffield? I have just returned from the vets with my dog, she is showing all the symptoms, the vet mentioned this,but is unsure I have brought her home & she is very poorly… I was wondering which area of sheffield the above ladies friends walked her dog? We have been in Hillsborough park & nether thorp today when the symptoms suddenly came on x

  14. My daughter,s dog has bean in ower local vet,s for the past 10 days with all the signs of SCI he is a young dog that she has not had long and came from a town we live near woods in Lincolnshire but the vets just put that to the side yet all test come back clear and he is on the mend now,she has outher dogs and thay are all fine

  15. Dona says:

    My dog became very ill in Northampton in June – he was sick then became very lethargic. I had to carry him outside and prop him up to have a wee. I took him to the vet down there who advised me that he had a fever and that as he was 16 it was better that he be put to sleep. I refused and asked for A/Bs and pain killer meds. I fed him on rice and boiled chicken and Heinz baby food and still carried him outside. Gradually he got stronger and first was very wobble . I believe that he did have this complaint as he always sniffed around the trees on the park. it makes you wonder what is being strayed on us – it is now killing all the Ash Trees. My dog is still on the pain killers as he has the normal aches and pains with being older but he stills runs around and enjoys his walks. I am glad that i did not take the advise of the vets in Northampton… It is very strange that they are not being informed officially about this environmental hazard. it is too widespread to be kept under wraps.

    • lesley says:

      Hi Dona what area of Northampton are you in ? my little yorkie cross ws sick 3/4 times yesterday very lethargic sick was horrible yellow fluid .gave her a spoonful of honey this morning and when I came back few hours later she was fine and back to old self was just my daughter told me about this SCD so thought would check it out thanks

  16. linda Hall says:

    I went on holday in august for 2. weeks in a caravan on a woodland jack Russell Lucy developement sickness and diarrhoea was very poorly took her to the vets she had 3 injections antibotics and was ok after a few days. this was in August would this illness be about in the summer months i was thinking of going to sandringham next year in early august but not sure what to do now. can anyone advice me.if i was to keep out of the woods with her would it still be about in the air was going to stay on sandringham site. this years holiday was in North Wales. Can anyone advice me. linda

    • Val says:

      I wouldn’t advise you to go to Sandringham as our border terrier picked up csi and was on a drip for 3 days. It seems to be prevalent around this area. This is a very worrying ddisease.

  17. Jessica says:

    After taking my jack russell and great dane to Oxshott Woods in Surrey they both are sick with the symptoms described……..been to the vets and just waiting for them to recover…….signs should be put up to warn dog owners……def nothing they ate because my jack Russell wears a muzzle……

  18. Christine says:

    My 13 year old dog has just recovered from similar symptoms outlined in these articles. She is generally very fit, but one morning she was very sick, and repeatedly sick until early afternoon when there was blood in her vomit. I immediately took her to the Vet and she was treated with antibiotic injections and given anitibiotic pills and pills to settle her stomach. Later that day there was a lot of blood in her motion. She was very ill that night and at one point I thought she had died. She is now fully recovered.
    A friend with a dog of similar age to mine and who is regularly walked on the same Beck field as I walk my dog also had to be treated for similar symptoms. This is all rather worrying, because we live in Darlington, County Durham and not in any of the areas mentioned in the article. It would seem, therefore, to be more wide spread than at first thought.

  19. Lana says:

    I’m in Cambridgeshire with my dog, I have family in Suffolk (such as; Rendleshame)who have dogs. Goodness this is quite scary – I feel far too worried to walk my dog around the fields and local farm now… Shall stick to the streets

  20. Anne says:

    After watching the Seasonal Canine Illness item on Countryfile tonight, I realised the symptoms shown by the dogs affected by it were the same as those exhibited by my Border collie, Bramble. She was quite old, very arthritic and she couldn’t go for walks. However, I have quite a large secluded garden which she enjoyed exploring and playing in.

    After eating her dinner on 7th August 2012 she went outside to go to the toilet. I always went out with her and she explored as usual but then she vomited, which was unusual for her. She came back inside but appeared happy and normal. The next morning when we went outside, I noticed she had diarrhoea and was very lethargic. I put the lethargy down to her having an upset stomach. I then had to go out. I returned 2 hours later to find her unable to get out of her bed. I called my son to help and we took her straight to the vets.The journey to the vet was less than 5 minutes and just as we got into the consulting room, she died in my arms. It was such a shock and the vet didn’t have a reason for her sudden illness. He said something about perhaps there was E.coli on the local beach about 5 minutes from my home but I hadn’t taken Bramble there for years (since she tried to eat a washed-up jellyfish!) so it couldn’t be that. Since watching the programme and googling SCI i’m convinced this was the cause of Brambles death.

  21. steve says:

    on the 30th of September we took our 7 year cocker spanial on a walk in the woods near our home in Thorpe Hesley near Rotherham, this was the first time she had ever been upon this walk before. The next morning she could not get up from her bed, i had to pick her up and carry here outside for the toilet, she was so poorly i had to hold her up, from then on she was so sick and could not hold anything down, we then took her to the vet where she was given an antibiotic injection and a stomach lineing medicine. The next day she was worse, so we returned to the vets, this we did for the next three days until on the 3rd of october we were told by the vet that there was no more that could be done for her and that she needed to be put to sleep.
    Since this sad day, we are both devestated with our loss but now anger has just kicked in after watching the latest episode of country file, we were never told of this illness and are so sad and wonder if more could have been done for our poor Molly, so please, please get a second opinion, i only wish we had.

  22. Sharon says:

    I have a 10 month old boxer Bodie , he has been ill for a few weeks displaying all symptoms above . He has been to the vets and given steroids , this week he came out in hives all over his body and once again sick . The vet said the hives could have been from a sting or bite . He has recovered once again this weekend .

  23. Paul Brady says:

    Might be a silly observation, but aren’t these dogs all showing the classic symptoms of Lymes Disease or something very similar. Just hope that this has been ruled out by vets and professionals, perhaps there is a strain of the disease that is not tick specific going around our countryside. Seem to remember the US and Canada suffering things like this for years… lets hope they find the source soon.

    • titansboss says:

      Hello Paul
      Vomiting is not typical of Lyme Disease –

    • hi, my dog illness started with the trots, vomit,i did notice he only vomited when he had been where other dogs had been,there is a small woods on the out skirts of norwich where they walk dogs ,its been closed of for months,they have clear it of all bushes shrubs the lot ,just left trees standing , there are signs up telling you to keep out ,iv been looking for another dog but with this desease about ill wait ,someone must know somthing,,,,,,

  24. Tricia says:

    Omg this Explains so so much. A few years ago we were Walking our dog pickle in clumber park in Notts, shortly after this he became extremely poorly, being sick, severe diarrhea. I came home from work to Quite a mess. This is a dog that never does anything in the house. We rushed him to the vets who didnt have a clue What was wrong. Luckily what they Did something right and he survived. At least I know what the problem was now!!! Thank you :ー)

  25. john says:

    we walked penny 14 month gsd in the woods most days,
    however sat am 22/9/2012 2 hours after returning she was sick twice
    only water brought up as we never feed her befor her walk. we nipped out for 1 hour and returned to 3 more vomits, so straight to the vets who gave her a jab of antibiotics. she could not keep even a cup full of water down and had a bum gravy problem. rang emergency vets at 8-30 pm sat night. took her in and vet said you have a very poorly dog kept her in on a drip for 2 days prescribed 400mg tabs ofmetronidazole and 60ml of diarsanyl.
    we picked her up mon am a lot livelier but blood in her pooh
    had 2 more follow ups and she appears to be over the worst of it.
    symptoms 1/ sickness 2/ runny bum 3/ lethargy the onset is very swift
    if your dog suffers any of these symptoms after woodland walks please vets asap. ….we are in north lincolnshire ….john

  26. sally says:


  27. Sue says:

    Just to let everyone know that my 14 year old labrador is up and about. Just spent a week near Scarborough with both my labs, the older one Megan has had a paddle in the sea and small walks, her appetite is coming back, she looks so much better, thank goodness. Our 4 year old Darcie Truffles has swam for England, she’s made up for what the old one hasn’t done. I am so thankful to my vet for getting us through this illness. SCI comes on so quick, its nasty.

  28. Sue says:

    I have a 14 year old labrador, she has been picking at her food for a couple of weeks, usually she eats anything and everything. She’s been very lethargic, and wobbly, weights dropped off her, her breath is really smelly, and diarrheah, she’s still kept drinking water. A week ago late evening she vomited bright yellow fluid, she looked awful, I thought I was going to loose her. Next morning I was really surprised to see her still breathing. Got on the phone straight away to my vet, took her over to him, he took blood from her, I waited for the results, liver, kidneys, blood all ok, very good for an old dog. She had an injection of anti-biotics and steroids, numerous tablets for a week. Last night she brought me a tennis ball, and threw it in my lap. I think were on the mend. Just opened our local paper, read a story on SCI, I really think deep down that this is what she had, my 4 year old lab is ok. I never asked my VET what it might be, after reading this article I now think I might be correct with the SCI.I walk both my dogs in the countryside, at 14 my old lab will still walk about 3 miles aday when in good health.( not at the moment) We are only a few miles from Clumber Park, which is one of the effected areas for SCI. We live at Shireoaks on the Notts/ South yorkshire border.

  29. helen says:

    A friends dog died of this on weds in the sheffield area, south yorkshire. it is feared that this is the 5ht dog to die in this area recently

    • steve says:

      Hello Helen, i had to have my cocker spanial put to sleep on the 3rd of october and she had all of these symptoms and was treated as all the other dogs on this page, do you know where about the other 5 dogs were from, i live in Thorpe Hesley area,
      thanks Steve

  30. paula says:

    MY 10 month old Labrador is still recovering after a violent attack of the sign’s stated above, and we have been visiting woods on a daily basis, I have three Lab’s both of his parents father is 8 and mum 4 neither they were ill, yet the pup very so ill, came home last night from the vets, the illness came on so very fast and wow did it smell. I can not say if this was the reason but it so happens that there is new growth as this time of year (April) and his mum in the month of may will get rashes over her tummy from some grass’s. Other wise they are healthy and happy throughout the year. Will watch for this next year…. as that is how I found out with his mum with the grass allergy ( have no idea as to what grass though) wishing all a happy time with pets and owners having the best fun of all, as I always say my dogs take me out every day and if it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t go out, only to get food.

    • Play Fetch says:

      Thanks for your comment Paula, how is your lab doing?

      A huge responsibility of having a dog is exercising and stimulating them, but it is also one of the best parts of dog ownership. We go out at the best times of day to hear the dawn chorus or they take us to amazing new places on walkies. Keep on walking :-)

  31. Tim says:

    Walked in Redlesham forest last Monday/Tuesday saw the signs as we came out of the forest. Walked with three dogs 2 labs 1 cocker. The cocker is in the vets now.

  32. lorna martin says:

    My brothers 9 yr old flatcoat retriever has just come from the vets today 31st dec 2011, after being rushed in on thursday 29th dec 2011, suffering from being sick and very lethargic, also his abdomen was swollen and very tender. He was put on a drip and antibiotics. Xrays were clear. He’s last walks were in the new forest near burley, and poole park. My brother didn’t notice him eating or drinking anything, but he did pick up a piece of old tree from the ground and carried it for a while.

    • Play Fetch says:

      Thanks for your comment Lorna, I hope he gets well soon. I read the other day scientists are now thinking that a form of mite are causing the illness.

  33. Fiona says:

    I think this is a bigger problem than recognised…… two dogs died within 12 hours of these symptoms in January this year and we do not live in the areas that are being cited, but they had walked in woodland around our home area. If it was this disease that killed them (we never got a firm diagnosis from the vet) then it was very quick.

  34. Gail Pryke says:

    My dog is recovering from it – in 24hours had been to Orwell Country Park (Bridge Wood and Braziers Wood/Meadow)as he does everyday and the last walk was Ransomes Europark (edged by Woodland in 2 places) Trinity Park and woods/Foxhall Woods/Purdis Heath. 48 hours previous Nacton Shores and Levington

  35. tom says:

    rendlesham forest is infected many dogs taken ill from which the foristry new but put signs up to late

  36. Deb says:

    great post…didn’t know the illness existed!

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