Serious illness in dogs

Published 06.09.2019     Modified 10.09.2019

In the recent days several dogs in Norway have become suddenly ill and died. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority are investigating the cause, but no conclusion has been reached. As long as the situation remains unresolved, we advise all dog owners to take the following precautions.

Advice for dog owners

  • Keep your dog on a lead in order to avoid close contact with other dogs, but make sure it gets the exercise it needs
  • Gatherings of dogs should be avoided, or carried out in a way that limits contact between dogs
  • 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.

Updated Friday, 13th September:

Autopsy of dogs has so far not provided an answer to the reason for the death of these, but the Norwegian Veterinary Institute reports that all had similar signs of serious bowel disease, with bloody content in the small intestines.

In some of the sampled dogs there has been found a mixed culture of Providencia alcalifaciens and Clostridium perfringens in the gut. But we can’t conclude that these are the cause of the symptoms we see.

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 sp. has not been identified.

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. Preliminary assessment of the responses received so far in the survey, doesn’t show any correlation between the cases that give a clear trace to follow in the investigation. In most cases where several dogs live in the same animal care, only one dog has become ill. This may indicate that the possible disease is not so contagious from dog to dog. 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.

Dogs showing signs of disease should be brought to the veterinarian as soon as possible. Dog owners should follow the vaccination routines recommended by veterinarians.

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.


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