Sandringham warning over canine illness

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Dog owners who visit the Queen’s Sandringham estate are being warned of the potential threat posed to their pets’ health by walking there.

Signs are being put up around the site urging visitors to be vigilant against symptoms of seasonal canine illness (SCI), which has affected the area in recent years.

The estate said: “Whilst we have not yet had any reports of dogs walked at Sandringham showing symptoms of SCI, we are, of course, anxious to prevent any further cases if at all possible.

“In order to help visitors and local residents enjoy their day at Sandringham, the Estate have put up posters alerting them to the disease and its symptoms and giving advice on what to do when visiting woodland with dogs.

“Sandringham Estate advises any dog owner who is at all worried about their pet to visit a veterinary surgeon immediately.”

A copy of the poster, together with a further warning about the threat of the disease, has also been posted on the estate’s website.

The estate has previously faced criticism from some pet owners, who claimed insufficient information had been given to visitors to warn them of the potential risks.

But Helen Watch, its public enterprises manager, said: “We are anxious to do what we can to help prevent further cases this year, whether here or anywhere else.”

Cases of SCI are most commonly seen between August and November and are associated with walking in wooded areas.

The most common symptoms are sickness, diarrhoea and lethargy. The poster says any dog owner that sees these signs within 72 hours of their pet walking in woodland should seek immediate veterinary advice.

It also advises owners to consider using spray treatments against mites immediately before walking in woods and ensuring their dogs have access to fresh water and lots of breaks during long journeys made before any woodland walk

The cause of the illness is not known, and there are, as yet, no known measures that can prevent it.

But experts from the Animal Health Trust, which has carried out research into the condition, said the number of fatal cases had fallen from 20 per cent in 2010 to just two per cent in 2012.

The group said: “We hope this is due to increased awareness of the condition and that dog owners now know to contact a vet for advice if they spot any of the clinical signs.”