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golden retriever walking in the woods

Seasonal canine illness reading-time-icon 2 min read

Seasonal canine illness (SCI) is a potentially fatal condition for which the cause is unknown.

This mysterious illness can affect dogs of any size or age, with symptoms appearing up to 3 days after walking in woodland areas.

Although the symptoms can be fatal, the condition is very rare and only seems to occur in late summer and autumn, with most cases reported in September.

What causes seasonal canine illness?

The cause of SCI remains the subject of much debate. The research into the illness has yet to come back with a conclusive cause and there is currently no test to diagnose it.

All cases have been thought to have been caught in woodland environments, most commonly between August and November, with a peak in September.

One theory is that harvest mites could be to blame as many of the dogs that have suffered from SCI have been found to be infested with harvest mites.

Research carried out by the Animal Health Trust suggests that there’s been a decrease in the number of fatal cases since 2010.

brown dog sitting in forest

Seasonal canine illness symptoms

The symptoms of SCI include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Tremors

As SCI is a very rare condition, if your dog is experiencing these symptoms, they could be suffering from another ailment.

Monitor your dog’s behaviour closely in the days after taking them for a woodland walk, and if your dog is suffering from any of these symptoms, contact your vet right away.

How is seasonal canine illness treated?

In the majority of cases, dogs that are suffering from seasonal canine illness require hospitalisation so that they can be treated for their symptoms. Treatment can include pain relief, anti-sickness medication, fluid therapy and close monitoring.

If treated early, dogs have a good chance of recovering. When the Animal Health Trust first started recording data for SCI cases, as many as 20% of cases were fatal; due to increased awareness and prompt treatment, this rate is now down to 2%.

Thanks to the research and ever-increasing awareness surrounding seasonal canine illness, the majority of dogs will be back to their old selves after 1-2 weeks of treatment.  

golden retriever walking in woods

Can I reduce the risk of seasonal canine illness?

Because there is so much uncertainty surrounding the cause of seasonal canine illness, there aren’t any concrete prevention methods.

The best advice is to stay vigilant and monitor your dog for symptoms after walking in the woods. In some cases, if CSI is left untreated, it can be fatal for dogs.

If your dog is poorly, get in touch with your vet and be sure to mention any recent woodland walks. The earlier your vet is able to diagnose SCI, the better the outlook for your dog.

Need more info?

If you need more advice about seasonal canine illness, or any other aspect of their welfare, have a chat with your vet.

Find your nearest vet using our Find a Vet page, or speak to a vet online using Online Vets.

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