Experts are unsure if condition is caused by a virus or bacterial strain

Vets are warning pet owners about the dangers of a mystery illness that is causing dogs to suffer severe bouts of prolific vomiting.

Pet emergency service Vets Now has seen a big increase in the number of dogs being admitted to its clinics with the condition.

Veterinary experts from the University of Liverpool are so concerned they are asking for help to collect data on the potential outbreak.

See their Q&A on this condition here.

Image of Dexter the golden retriever for Vets Now article on dog sickness bug 2020
18-month old Dexter needed emergency treatment when he began being violently sick

Golden retriever Dexter, who’s 18 months old, was rushed into Vets Now in Liverpool last weekend after he began being violently sick.

His owner Graeme Mushrow, from Kirkby, Merseyside, said: “It started with an upset stomach on the Thursday night and on the Friday he started being sick.

“The vomiting got gradually more severe so we took him to our daytime vets and were given medication and he had some blood tests.

“By the following day though, Dexter was much worse. He was still being sick, could hardly walk and looked like he was on the verge of collapsing.

“We rushed him to Vets Now and, by this stage, his temperature was below 34C and he was also severely dehydrated.

“He was put on fluids and kept in overnight for treatment and, thankfully, his condition improved the following day.

“The care we got from Vets Now from the moment we brought him in was fantastic but it was a very worrying time. I’d strongly urge other pet owners whose dogs suffer severe vomiting like this not to hold off and contact their vet straight away.”

Laura Playforth, professional standards director at pet emergency service Vets Now, said its emergency vets and vet nurses have reported seeing a rise in cases of gastroenteritis in dogs in recent weeks, with many of those suffering prolific bouts of vomiting.

In January last year Vets Now’s nationwide network of clinics and hospitals treated, on average, 11 cases of gastroenteritis a day while this January that figure has risen to 15 a day.

She said: “Dogs are sick for a variety of reasons. Vomiting is often caused by a sudden change in diet, through scavenging, such as feeding off human leftovers, worms or even eating too much or too quickly.

Image of Dexter the golden retriever for Vets Now article on dog sickness bug 2020
Dexter's owner warns others to contact their vet immediately if their dog is suffering from severe vomiting

“Other more serious reasons include infection, eating foreign bodies such as socks or toys, or swallowing or licking flowers, plants or toxins that are poisonous to dogs. Less common medical issues such as cancer or kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease could also be to blame.

“However, the most worrying aspect of this potential outbreak is how prolific and forceful the vomiting is and the fact there is anecdotal evidence that affected dogs can transmit the disease. At the moment, we don’t know if a specific virus or bacterial strain is involved.

“Owners who suspect their dogs have this illness should contact their veterinary practice straight away for advice or, if it’s out of hours, their nearest Vets Now pet emergency clinic.”

The pet emergency clinic in Liverpool is one of a nationwide network of Vets Now clinics and hospitals open through the night, seven days a week, and day and night at weekends and bank holidays.

All of Vets Now’s out-of-hours clinics and 24/7 hospitals have a vet and a veterinary nurse on site at all times.