Serious illness in dogs

Published 06.09.2019     Modified 10.09.2019

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority and the Norwegian Veterinary Institute still receive reports of dogs with bloody diarrhea from veterinarians, clinics and others, but it is now clear that the number of diseased dogs is declining. It is also clear that not all cases of illness are linked to each other.

Advice for dog owners

  • As usual, you should contact your veterinarian if you notice any symptoms of a disease that may require treatment, and you should call the veterinarian before bringing an acute, seriously ill dog to the clinic.
  • As a dog owner you should evaluate whether your dog is healthy or not and consider whether it poses a risk to other dogs if you take it to places where several dogs are gathered, such as dog parks, exhibits and dog nurseries.
  • If the dog is showing symptoms of disease, you shouldn’t let it greet or sniff at other dogs while out walking it. As usual, you should pick up your dog’s waste and throw it in a garbage can.

Many of the reported cases are from some counties in Eastern Norway, where the density of dogs is also high. The Norwegian Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority believe that more dogs in this area would have become ill if this had been a more contagious disease. This is true even if dog owners have complied with the Norwegian Food Safety Authority's advice so far. The information we have received also shows that in most cases where one sick dog lives with other dogs, only one dog has been affected.

The Norwegian Veterinary Institute believes it is unlikely that there is one specific common denominator among all the registered cases of dogs with bloody diarrhea. It is emphasized that the development of disease is probably  multifactorial, which means that the development of the disease is due to several coinciding factors. Some of the cases may also have other causes and may not be part of what we now perceive as an outbreak.

So far, the bacterium Providencia alcalifaciens has been detected in approx. 50 of the dogs who have fallen ill with bloody diarrhea. The bacterium has also been detected in some healthy dogs, but in smaller quantities.

So far, studies of bacterial relationships have shown that 14 of the cases of sick dogs had almost identical bacteria. The studies also show that some dogs have been identified with bacteria that are not identical to the 14. This confirms that some dogs with bloody diarrhea have been exposed to the same source of infection, while others are not part of an outbreak, and may be random cases of different causes.

The 14 are all from Eastern Norway, but so far, few samples from the rest of the country have been studied with regards to relationship. Several studies are being conducted to see if more of the dogs that have been sampled have had identical bacteria.

The Veterinary Institute and the Norwegian Food Safety Authority continue to work on studies of the pathogenic properties of the bacteria and systematically search for possible sources.

In parallel with this, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority reviews and follows up the information from the ongoing survey, to see if there are common features such as age, breed, feeding, contact with other dogs, and areas.

End of sampling and registration

The Norwegian Food Safety Authority have now stopped the obligation to notife the authority on cases with similar symptoms. The sampling and collection of animals for autopsy are also concluded, as new material probably won’t add new information to the investigation.

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