Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI)

Autumn is a beautiful time of year, with the colours changing and the crisp temperatures setting in.  So what better way to spend your spare time than taking in the sights with your four-legged friend?  Trouble is, there are a number of risks to dogs at this time of year.  So it’s really important to know what to look out for so you can keep your pup as safe as possible.

What is Seasonal Canine Illness?

Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) is an autumn illness which first appeared in the UK around 10 years ago. Sadly, this mystery illness can be potentially life-threatening, and as the cause is unknown, it can be difficult to know where you should and shouldn’t walk your dog during the autumn months.

Most cases are reported between August and November and they are generally spread across the UK, although it is believed the first cases were identified in Norfolk a decade ago.

Symptoms of Seasonal Canine Illness

Seasonal Canine Illness is believed to affect dogs that have been walked in woodland areas and can take up to around 3 days to manifest, although symptoms can appear within a matter of hours.  Symptoms can include vomiting, stomach upset, lethargy, shaking and increased temperatures.  If you notice any signs of your dog being unwell, seek veterinary advice immediately.

Whilst the cause has not been identified, a lot of reports suggest that harvest mites may be the culprit, and owners of dogs who have suffered from SCI have reported orange mites around their paws and abdomen, although this may be a coincidence due to the time of year.

There are no official statistics on how many cases there are in the UK each year and thankfully it is quite rare.  However, it is thought that since its first appearance, fortunately the outlook for affected dogs has improved due to a raised awareness and owners seeking veterinary advice straight away.

Seasonal Canine Illness


So, what can we do to protect our dog as much as possible?  Well, we can avoid woodland walks during the autumn months and stick to more open areas.  But there are some precautions you can take if you are walking your dogs in wooded areas:

  • Treating them with a vet-recommended insecticide spray before your walks
  • Keeping them on a lead so they don’t roam where you can’t see them
  • Making sure they are kept hydrated before and after their walk
  • Cleaning them thoroughly straight after the walk, including inside their paws
  • Sticking to pathways
  • Paying attention to any warning signs en-route

Treatment for Seasonal Canine Illness

Treatment for Seasonal Canine Illness will depend on how early on veterinary help is accessed and may involve hospitalisation to re-hydrate the dog and a course of antibiotics.  But don’t forget, urgency is the key.  If you notice any signs of illness in your dog, get them to the vets immediately.


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