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Bid to find cause of seasonal dog illness

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Early morning dog walkers

A new website has been launched in a bid to help find out why some dogs have fallen ill when visiting woodlands across Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) has created an online questionnaire for people to report incidents where their pets fell ill or perhaps even died.

Reports of the mystery sickness – dubbed Seasonal Canine Illness - first came to light in 2009 and more dogs fell ill  in 2010.  

The problem has also been reported in other parts of the country, including East Anglia and Warwickshire, and only seems to occur during Autumn months.

Locally the Forestry Commission has joined forces with the Environment Agency, National Trust,  Notts Wildlife Trust,  Nottinghamshire County Council and Ashfield and Mansfield District Councils to try and solve the riddle.

Jo Atkinson from the Forestry Commission said:

"Last year we had five reports of dogs falling ill, but our partner organisations also received reports. What we want to do is to work with the AHT to get a solid idea of the scale of the problem and understand the circumstances of each case.  We have ruled out man-made poisons and we believe that the problem is a natural one and it also appears to be seasonal."

Forest chiefs are also in talks with Nottingham University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science to look at setting up a research project aimed at shedding light on the illness. Jo Atkinson added:

"Scientific tests carried out last year drew a blank, but we even so believe that experts from the University may be able to help.  As a first step it is vital we get an accurate idea of the number and distribution of dogs falling ill so we would urge any dog owners who have been affected to fill in the questionnaire.”

The new website page can be found at

Notes to Editor

  1. The Forestry Commission manages 35,000 acre of land in the East Midlands and South Yorkshire, most of which offers free access to roam for people and their pets.

  2. Forestry Commission England is the government department responsible in England for protecting, expanding and promoting the sustainable management of woods and forests and increasing their value to society and the environment. Forestry makes a real contribution to sustainable development, providing social and environmental benefits arising from planting and managing attractive, as well as productive, woodlands. For further information visit

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