DOG owners have been warned to be on alert for a vomiting bug which has struck down “three times as many” animals as normal in recent weeks – with reports of fatalities from one vet practice.
Symptoms for the illness – known as gastroenteritis – include extreme vomiting, diarrhoea and blood or mucus in the animal’s stools.
Vets have reported a huge rise in the normal numbers of cases, with Pentland Vet Clinic reporting that the illness had claimed the lives of some pets, leaving owners devastated.
The disease of the intestine is caused by various factors, including ingesting contaminated rubbish or faeces belonging to other animals.
The Currie-based clinic posted on its Facebook page: “There is a very nasty gastroenteritis bug doing the rounds just now, not just in our area, but across Edinburgh.
“The emergency clinics are being inundated with cases and some, sadly, have proven so severe as to be fatal.
“We would warn everyone to be especially vigilant of what your dog may be eating when off lead, and to take fresh water with you to try and avoid them drinking from puddles, ditches or stagnant water.”
Rebecca Rex, a veterinary nurse at Market Cross Veterinary Clinic, in Dalkeith, said the clinic had seen “three times as many cases” of the seasonal illness in recent weeks, but she said things were starting to improve.
Dog lover Jean Bews said she believed her beloved pet Jack was going to die when he caught the bug last week, which left him vomiting in agony for more than 12 hours.
Mrs Bews, 73, took her ten-year-old Jack Russell, to the vet last Monday for his annual check-up but was alarmed when he started vomiting repeatedly and howling in pain that evening.
The retired Slateford resident said: “He was scratching the floor and he couldn’t get up. He was just crawling around.
“I thought my dog was going to die. He was in agony from about 8pm to 10am the next day. It was horrible and really scary.
“I phoned the vet the next morning and they said it couldn’t have been the injection and to bring him in straight away.”
Jack had to be put on a drip for three days to ensure he had enough fluids and he has now started to improve.
Mrs Bews added: “I have never seen him like that in my life. He is not a sickly dog.
“The vet warned me there was something going around.”
A spokesman for pet-care charity PDSA said they had not seen an increase in cases in their pet hospitals but they urged pet owners to take care.
The spokesman said: “Pet owners need to be alert for signs and symptoms as gastroenteritis can quickly become serious in some cases.
“If you are concerned your pet is ill, our advice is always to contact your vet as soon as possible.”