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SCI heading

Dogs in Woodland

SCI – Seasonal Canine Illness
You may have read and heard in the news in recent weeks about Seasonal Canine Illness, which sadly has claimed the lives of several dogs over the past couple of years and remains something of a mystery in terms of its cause.
Generally, cases of Seasonal Canine Illness are seen between August and November and occur after walking dogs through woodland. The illness can affect dogs of any size, shape or sex and they can become ill very quickly, often within 24 hours. In autumn 2009 and 2010, there were many reports of dogs becoming seriously ill after walking on countryside sites, particularly woodland. Tests by Natural England have ruled out man made poisons, but the actual cause of the illness is still unknown.

Cases seem to have been concentrated in East Anglia, Nottinghamshire, Lincolnshire and Warwickshire, although there have been reports of what has been thought to be SCI from further afield.


Symptoms have generally been displayed by the animals within 24 – 72 hours of walking in these areas and the most common clinical signs reported are:
• Vomiting.
• Diarrhoea.
• Abdominal pain.
• Lethargy (or reluctance to move).
• Loss of appetite.
• Shaking or trembling.
• High temperature/fever.

If you notice any of these signs in your pet seek veterinary advice immediately - it could be useful to make sure you have your vet's number to hand on your mobile phone.

What is Being Done?
The exact number of dogs involved is not known. The Animal health Trust has received reports of suspected cases of SCI from all of the five study sites – Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire; Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk; Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire; Thetford Forest, Norfolk; and the Sandringham Estate, Norfolk – since the end of August 2012.
However, dogs could be at risk when walking in any woodland during autumn, so dog owners should remain vigilant and seek veterinary advice immediately if they suspect their dog has SCI.

The Animal Health Trust
hope to get more responses from owners of all dogs walked in affected areas (including dogs not taken ill, as this helps to build a picture of the pattern of illness). They have launched an investigation into SCI 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.
If you have walked your dogs at any of the study sites – regardless of whether or not your dog was taken ill – you can help by completing the online questionnaire at
Landowners are hoping to work with vets to find out about cases more rapidly, to help them inform people using their sites for dog walking.
The Veterinary Poisons Information Service will also be monitoring their enquiries for unusual cases that may be referred to them where SCI could be among the possible causes of illness.

What You Can Do

1. Be vigilant for any signs of illness and contact a vet immediately if you are concerned
2. Be aware of where your dog is and what it may be eating/drinking/walking through
3. Complete the Animal Health Trust questionnaire if you have walked your dog in an affected area, even if your dog has not become ill. There are specific questionnaires that can be downloaded from their website.
5. Notify other pet owners you encounter about the project in order to spread the word!

Contact the Animal Health Trust


Epidemiology Department 01638 555399

General Telephone Number 01638 751000

Dedicated SCI Email

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