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September 28, 2015

Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI)

Woodland dog walk - watch out for sesonal canine illness

Beware the autumn woods!


Seasonal Canine illness was first identified in 2009 as an illness affecting dogs in the autumn season. The peak period for this illness is late August to early November.


SCI can be fatal so is a worrying illness, and dog care societies such as the Animal Health Trust and The Kennel Club are conducting research into the causes of this illness. Experts aren’t exactly sure what causes SCI; cases are usually reported after dogs have been taken for a walk in wooded areas.

Symptoms of Seasonal Canine Illness include:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Lethargy
  • High temperature
  • Trembling
  • Diarrhoea

Causes of Seasonal Canine Illness

So what could cause Seasonal Canine Illness and how are woodlands such dangerous places in the autumn?

SCI appears to be most prevelant when your dog heads off to explore the woods; losing sight of his owner. This suggests that one explanation could involve the dog eating or even simply touching something that the owner is unaware of.

Most probable examples are mushrooms, which can potentially be poisonous. They grow everywhere, from the middle of fields to the area surrounding the base of trees. Your dog could easily gobble one up weithout your knowledge, so you need to be alert and cautious.

Another cause could be harvest mites. These mites feed on warm-blodded animals and dogs are therefore easy victims. Mites in the UK are not known to transmit disease but in warmer countries this does occur. Considering the ease through which parasites cross boundaries in the modern world, it is possible that foreign mites could have started to colonise the UK, bringing disease with them.

Leaf piles are also dangerous. These piles appear soft and safe, but remember that leaf piles are essentially humps of rotting vegetation, and therefore contain bacteria, fungi and other disease-causing elements (harvest mites being a perfect example). If your dog has been playing and rolling in a pile of leaves, they are likely to have ingested or picked up something harmful on their fur. This can lead to vomiting, fever and diarrhoea.

Care of Seasonal Canine Illness

If you notice your dog suffering from any of the above symptoms within 72 hours of walking in woodland, take the animal to the vet. Your dog may have to be hospitalised and treated with intravenous fluids. However early recognition and cure of the symptoms prevents the disease spreading out of control, and causing your dog to suffer and perhaps die.

Prevention of Seasonal Canine Illness

To prevent the onset of the disease, bring your dog for a medicated bath as soon as possible after your walk. In this way, you can avoid the colonisation of your dog by mites, and stop the disease in it’s tracks.


To book a medicated bath or to know more about Seasonal Canine Illness? Contact Natural Look Dogs here.

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About The Author

I am an Italian vet with over 30 years experience in dog grooming and dog care. I have run several successful dog grooming salons in Italy. I moved to the UK in 2013 with my husband Martin and set up Natural Look Dogs in Winchmore Hill, London.

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