The British Veterinary Association said the reports of “gastroenteritis-like symptoms” had sparked speculation that the disease could be linked to going to the beach.
Common symptoms reported by owners so far – with one case reported on Hayling Island – include weak and listless dogs, tremors and vomiting.
BVA President Justine Shotton has advised owners not to panic and speak to their vet if they have concerns.
Healthy dogs in Sussex. Image: Steve Robards, SR1921358.
She said: “Vets see cases of gastroenteritis relatively frequently in the office, but the numbers appear to be increasing and more widespread than usual.”
“At this time we cannot speculate as to what could be causing the symptoms and there is currently no evidence of a direct link between the disease and the dogs that visit the beaches.”
dr Shotton said the BVA has received reports from domestic vets and is seeing an increase in cases in dogs that have never been to the beach.
“For gastroenteritis, most cases are mild, but some dogs may need to be hospitalized with an IV,” she said.
“In the worst situations, bleeding can occur, leading to secondary complications or even death, but this is very rare.”
dr Shotton added that the increase in cases could be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis vets see in the winter and said the BVA saw something similar two years ago.
“The latest data from the University of Liverpool’s veterinary surveillance database suggests that the increase is part of normal seasonal variation at the moment,” she said.
dr Shotton advised owners of sick dogs to contact their local veterinarians quickly for treatment, and urged veterinary practices to report any instances of vomiting to help researchers investigate.