A pet owner has spoken of his anguish after his dogs contracted seasonal canine illness after a walk in the woods.
Paul and Pia Scheggia had to rush their dogs, Gino and Luigi, to the vets after they collapsed after a walk at Sandringham.
Seasonal canine illness (SCI) is a mystery disease which results in dogs becoming seriously ill and even dying.
Veterinary charity, Animal Health Trust, has received reports of eight dogs picking up the illness following walks at Sandringham since August.
The charity is investigating the causes and is now looking at a potential link between the disease and harvest mites.
Mr and Mrs Scheggia, who moved to Tilney-Cum-Islington from London, are hoping to warn other pet owners.
London taxi driver Mr Scheggia said: “It was frightening to watch them go through that.
“They are still very lethargic and are not 100 per cent.
“We have just moved here and didn’t know anything about this and wanted to warn other people.”
The couple stopped off at Sandringham to allow Gino, a Shih Tzu cross, and Luigi, a King Charles Spaniel cross, to have a run while travelling up to Wells on Friday last week.
Mr Scheggia said they were in the woods for 15 to 20 minutes before continuing with their journey.
But disaster struck on Sunday when Gino became ill and started shaking before collapsing.
He was taken to Terrington Veterinary Centre .
But the Scheggias had to return later in the afternoon after Luigi also became ill.
Both dogs were put on drips and left at the vets overnight before being picked up by their owners the following lunchtime.
Mr Scheggia said: “It was a worrying time.”
The Animal Health Trust has received reports of 49 cases following visits to its investigation sites in Sandringham, Thetford Forest, Sherwood Forest and Clumber Park, in Nottinghamshire, and Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk.
The illness usually strikes between August and November when dogs show signs of vomiting, diarrhoea and lethargy within 24 to 72 hours of walking in woodland.
The charity is now investigating a possible link with harvest mites after a number of sick dogs were affected by the insect.
Harvest mites are bright orange insects which feed on dogs, cats and rabbits.
Research co-ordinator Charlotte Robin said: “To enable us to eliminate harvest mites as a potential cause, we are advising dog owners to treat their dogs with a fipronil spray directly before walking in woodlands.
“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.”