We have found that the increase of number of cases of severe gastroenteritis in dogs in Wokingham mirrors the national picture.

Michael and Nancy’s dogs Scruffy and Paige enjoying their walk.

As many local dog owners are already aware at St Vincents Veterinary Surgery we have seen an increase in cases of gastroenteritis in dogs in and around Wokingham with more severe symptoms and prolonged recovery than the normal cases we see. I would like to use this opportunity to share the latest information from The Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET). This is an initiative from the British Small Animal Veterinary Association and the University of Liverpool. This is very useful and reassuring information for vets and owners alike as they deal with these challenging cases. The key aims of SAVSNET are to:

  • monitor disease trends over time and highlight appropriate interventions
  • identify populations at risk and monitor treatments and outcomes
  • provide data resources for academics and others
  • improve general public awareness of small animal diseases and prevention
  • provide a route to clinical benchmarking for vets in small animal practice.

So far information collated by SAVSNET is summarised as follows:

  • Several vets across the country are reporting an increase in vomiting in dogs. Affected cases seem to vomit more frequently than is typical for canine gastroenteritis, and can sometimes have diarrhoea and prolonged lethargy.
  • Dogs usually make a full recovery with routine symptomatic veterinary therapy. There is no known risk to people.
  • There is some anecdotal evidence that affected dogs can transmit the disease. It therefore makes sense for owners and vets to handle suspect cases carefully, and limit contact between affected and unaffected dogs.
  • Currently we do not know whether this is part of normal seasonal variation or whether a specific virus or bacteria is involved. Importantly both vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs can be affected.
  • Owners of suspect cases should contact their veterinary practice for advice, as early as possible. There is a questionnaire to aid SAVSNET with monitoring of this disease process – please contact St Vincents Vets on 0118 9793200 for more information.

So as owners please be vigilant for the following signs and seek early veterinary intervention should you suspect your dog may be affected.

Vomiting: This is unusual in the multiplicity and relentlessness of vomiting, roughly every 10 minutes and the forcefulness of the vomit. Typically, the dog vomits 4-8 times. Sometimes the vomiting stops such as overnight and then starts again. Often dogs have vomited after taking water at this time. The frequency of vomiting is the feature noted as being unusual.

Anorexia: Dogs have been reluctant to take food for 2-5 days. This marked and repeatable clinical sign is unusual in its persistence after vomiting has ceased.

Lethargy: Some dogs have been lethargic (dull) for about 2-3 days after onset of vomiting. Again, at our practice this is relatively uncommon in normal gastroenteritis cases.

Diarrhoea: Most but not all dogs have had diarrhoea which can be described as ‘gravy-like’.

The majority of cases have responded to symptomatic therapy.  We currently recommend an anti-nausea drug, gastrointestinal binding agents, a bland diet (home-cooked or bland gastro-type tinned food), and encourage the dog to take oral fluids. More severe cases have required intravenous fluid therapy.

Most owners reported that their dog was still not eating normally 1-3 days later, with full recovery often taking 5-10 days.  This prolonged recovery seems unusual compared to more typical cases of vomiting in dogs.

We are happy to offer advice over the phone but we would strongly recommend an appointment with one of our vets for any dog showing some or all of the above signs as early intervention is associated with the best outcomes. We are currently having good results with our therapeutic approach in the majority of these cases. 

St Vincents Vets also look after the Canine Assisted Learning dogs.

Michael Morrow has 25 years’ experience as a veterinary surgeon and together with his wife |Nancy owns and runs St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, an independent small animal practice providing personal care for pets in and around Wokingham since 2005. Please call us on 0118 9793200 or visit www.stvincentsvets.co.uk for more information about the practice. We can also arrange an appointment to meet the team and have a tour of our surgery.