In the recent days a number dogs in Norway have become suddenly ill and died. To find out more about this, listen to the podcast at the foot of this page or read on below.
Dogs dying from mystery disease in Norway
Over twenty five dogs have died. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority are investigating the cause, but no conclusion has been reached. Autopsies of dogs have so far not provided an answer to the reason for the deaths, but the Norwegian Veterinary Institute reports that all had similar signs of serious bowel disease, with bloody content in the small intestines.
Vets have said that the disease appears to be a type of illness similar to Haemorrhagic Gastroenteritis (HGE) which is seen intermittently in dogs all over the world, including Ireland. This condition is normally “ideopathic” i.e. there is no known cause, but it does not occur in clusters. The difference with the situation in Norway, is that cases are happening with an increased incidence, and dogs are dying (most dogs with HGE survive with treatment)
The nearest parallel is Parvovirus, which causes a similar severe type of bloody diarrhoea, and which often causes dogs to die. However Parvovirus has not been isolated from the dogs in Norway, and affected dogs are vaccinated against it in any case. In some of the dogs, specific bacteria have been isolated from the gut (a mixed culture of Providencia alcalifaciens and Clostridium perfringens) but there is no evidence that these are causing the signs of illness. The Food Safety Authority is still looking widely for possible causes, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. So far, there are no signs that the animals have been poisoned by known substances, and Salmonella sp. and Campylobacter bacteria have not been identified, nor have any viruses.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority, together with the Norwegian Veterinary Institute, will continue to work on mapping the disease outbreak with information from autopsies, samples from sick dogs and obtaining in-depth information from relevant dog owners. An online questionnaire has been established and all Norwegian veterinarians may use this to register the information they gather. For the time being, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority’s advice on restricting close contact between dogs remains valid.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority first received information about the disease cases from veterinarians in Oslo and the surrounding area and has since also received information on dogs with similar symptoms in other parts of the country. At present there is no basis to say whether the cases are related.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority now generally recommends that dog owners restrict the close contact between dogs and keep dogs on a lead so that they are under control. When dogs are walked, they should not greet the dogs they meet for as long as the situation is unclear.
The recommendation to avoid close contact with other dogs means that dog owners should make an independent assessment of whether they should attend dressage courses, exhibitions, hunting trials and the like, which entails closer gatherings of dogs until this matter is solved or new information has been published.
Dog owners who are going to the veterinarian should also avoid close contact with other dogs, and in case of suspicion of serious illness, pet owners should contact the clinic before taking the dog in so that infection-reducing measures can be implemented by the clinic.
The Norwegian Food Safety Authority has not been notified of cases of disease with similar symptoms in other animal species, and so far, there are no indications that this is something that can infect humans.
Advice for dog owners in Norway
- Keep your dog on a lead in order to avoid close contact with other dogs
- Gatherings of dogs should be avoided.
- Don’t let your dog sniff/greet other dogs when out walking
- Don`t let your dog sniff areas or eat material where other dogs might have been
- If your dog experiences bloody or gushing diarrhea, vomiting or deteriorating condition, contact your veterinarian
- Call ahead to the veterinarian before you bring your dog to the clinic
- Follow the advice of your veterinarian, especially regarding vaccines.
- The cause of the cases is not known, but the Norwegian Food Safety Authority recommends that dog owners restrict the close contact between dogs and keep dogs on a lead so that they are under control.
- There is no need for dog owners in Ireland to be concerned at all, but anyone travelling to Norway should be aware of this issue, and should take sensible hygiene precautions to avoid any possible risk of bringing back anything that might bring any type of disease back to Ireland.
Shortage of vets to help at Irish borders post Brexit
Veterinary Ireland, the representative body for vets, has expressed concern over the Government’s “lack of preparedness for the provision of veterinary inspection services at Ireland’s ports and/or borders in the event of Brexit”. The organisation said that the Department of Agriculture plansto supplement its permanent veterinary inspectorate with private veterinary practitioners to meet the additional needs. However, it also said there has been “no meaningful engagement” with Veterinary Ireland on the arrangements to be put in place. The concern is that the high demand for vets at ports and borders may have a detrimental impact on the availability of veterinary services to the farming community and the public. This is one of the many complications around Brexit which is likely to affect vets, farmers and pet owners in the coming months.
Questions from listeners about pets
The following questions were asked on the show: to find out the answers, listen to the podcast at the foot of the page.
- My son wants a pet snake. Is this wise? What sort of care is involved? What different types of snake are available?
- My three year old cat has become sleepier in the past week. She is eating normally and shows no other sign of illness. She just sleeps more than previously.
- My cat is coughing up furballs regularly. What can we do about this?
- My elderly collie aged 14 is eating grass a lot for a few weeks and occasionally throwing up but is generally in good form and not off her food. What could be the problem?
- Our rescue pet lurcher has gone missing in Tallaght yesterday – we have posted this on social media, but what else can we do?
- I have brought in a male Llama to look after sheep. What advice can you give me about this?