Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI): What Is It And How To Treat It? 


Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI) is a newly discovered disease that currently has no specific cause. As is evident from its name, this is a seasonal disease that mostly affects dogs during the autumn months. Dogs normally develop this disease after a walk through the wooded forest. It is most commonly seen between August and November.

SCI has been seen in dogs of every age, gender or breed, but it does not appear to affect other species, such as cats. Seasonal canine disease can prove fatal if left untreated. The disease spreads very rapidly and can worsen your dog’s health in just a few hours.


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What causes Seasonal Canine Illness?


The SCI cause is not yet known. Many cases of SCI dogs have been found to have mites harvesting, and this possible connection is currently being further investigated. While mites are not known to spread disease in the United Kingdom, similar mites are known to do so in other countries. Up till now, the Animal Welfare Trust investigation has identified possible risk factors that could raise the probability of a dog developing SCI. Small dogs who are on vacation with their owner and run out of sight through undergrowth, tend to be at greater risk of becoming infected.


Signs of seasonal canine illness


Signs usually occur in dogs after a walk in the wooded forest. The symptoms are non-specific, so the disease might be skipped. If your dog vomits or is lethargic after being trained in the field, call your vet immediately. Symptoms to be seen include: 

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea 
  • Lethargy
  • Stomach pain 
  • Fever
  • Muscle tremor


How is Seasonal Canine Illness Treated?


There are no tests to specifically diagnose SCI, but the infected dogs also need blood tests to be performed. Other investigations may be required to determine the degree of dehydration they are suffering from and to exclude other conditions with similar symptoms that may need different or more complex treatments.


Without treatment, affected dogs worsen quickly, but intravenous fluid therapy is the recommended treatment and can lead to rapid improvement. Antibiotics and supportive medications can also be effective, but each case is treated on an individual basis, and with timely and intensive care, many infected pets recover within 7-10 days.

Unfortunately, veterinarians still don’t know what causes the disorder, although research is underway. Scientists have studied the potential roles of plant toxins, algae, fungi, and parasites, but these are not the cause. According to studies, there seems to be a connection with harvesting mites, and they have been suggested as a possible cause.


With this in mind, topical insecticide sprays have been recommended as potentially preventative when used prior to muddy forest walks, but vets don’t really know if insecticides are equally effective. If the vet has identified the cause, they will be able to prevent and treat the disease effectively. In the meantime, it has been recommended that owners should stop walking their dogs in high-risk areas in the autumn months, although many local owners prefer to do so without problems.


What can I do to reduce the risk of my dog getting Seasonal Canine Illness?


Owners should make sure to keep a close eye on their dog when they’ve been on a forest walk. They should also consider using the following methods to help reduce their dog’s chance of having SCI:


  • You must keep your dog hydrated


  • You should use preventive mite spray before you walk your dog. Research indicates that mites are often seen in dogs suffering from SCI, which means that the use of preventive spray can possibly help prevent the disease.


  • If your dog is not well, please contact your vet soon as possible. Visiting your vet at an early stage could keep your pet safe and healthy
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