The Animal Health Trust is urging dog owners to use an anti-mite spray when walking their pets in woods.
The Kentford-based trust’s research into seasonal canine illness, where dogs become lethargic, vomit and have diarrhoea soon after walking in woods, suggests it may be linked to harvest mites.
To help eliminate harvest mites as a potential cause it asks owners to treat their dogs with a fipronil spray (such as Frontline) directly before walking in woods.
Charlotte Robin, SCI Research Co-ordinator at the AHT, said: “Dog owners need to be aware that using fipronil spray may not protect their dog from SCI, but it could protect them from Harvest mites and other external parasites. What we are trying to do with this study is eliminate the Harvest mite and other external parasites from our enquiries.
“Clearly if Harvest mites are not causing SCI then using fipronil spray is not going to stop dogs from contracting SCI, so please remain vigilant for the clinical signs in your dog and contact your vet immediately for advice if you suspect something is wrong.”
SCI was first recorded in dogs walked on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate but has now been recorded across Norfolk, Suffolk and Nottinghamshire.
Sandringham Estate is supporting a pilot programme in which dog walkers there can get vouchers for the spray if they take part in an AHT study. Visit the AHT SCI pilot study website