PET owners have been made aware of a sickness affecting dogs in parts of Oxfordshire.

A spike in cases of canine gastroenteritis, which causes diarrhoea and vomiting, has been reported elsewhere in the country.

Vets in Derbyshire and Lancashire have highlighted a rise in cases this month, and now Oxfordshire dog owners have raised awareness.

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Posting on a public Bicester residents' Facebook page yesterday, one woman said 'several dogs on Langford' had picked up the illness.

She asked if any other areas had been affected and dozens of people responded, with several reporting that their dogs had also become sick.

One dog owner, who lives in Bure Park in Bicester, commented: "My lab had it last weekend. Ended up at the vets for anti-sickness injection.

"Vet said there is a lot of it going round."

Another added: "Someone's dog in the Highfield area got it [on Tuesday] and it's still in the vet's."

One woman agreed: "Our vet warned us there is loads of this going around."

An Oxford Mail reader said several dogs in Berinsfield have also been affected, while another near Banbury said his dog had presented with similar symptoms.

Commenting on Facebook, a dog owner in Bampton said: "My dog had this a few weeks ago. I thought she was going to die, she wouldn't eat or move.

"Took her to the vet for anti-vomiting injection and antibiotics. It took a while to get her back to normal. It was scary."

The cause of gastroenteritis is mostly unknown but possible reasons include a virus or bacteria, eating spoiled food or ingesting toxins.

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In May last year, there were reports of haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) in Bicester and the surrounding villages, which is a similar illness but involves the presence of blood.

At the time, Bicester Vets said there were 'many different causes' of the condition, some of which could be infectious. 

Gastroenteritis is the inflammation of the stomach and intestines, and symptoms include vomiting, diarrhoea, a painful stomach and loss of appetite.

Animal charity the Blue Cross advises that 'in severe and rare cases, gastroenteritis can lead to death, with young dogs being particularly at risk'.

It advises people to immediately seek a vet's help if their pet displays symptoms.

Treatment will vary depending on the cause but most dogs will be cured within a few days.

How to prevent gastroenteritis

According to the Blue Cross, these tips can help to prevent the sickness:

  • Discourage your dog from scavenging
  • If you are switching your dog’s diet, introduce the new food slowly
  • Ensure your dog is up to date on their vaccinations and worming medication