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Dog owners warned to avoid beaches as mystery illness leaves hundreds of pets unwell

Dog owners have been warned to stay away from beaches in the north east after hundreds of dogs have fallen unwell.

A veterinary nurse based in Whitby, north Yorkshire, urged people to be vigilant after several practices were “inundated” with dogs suffering from sickness and diarrhoea following trips to beaches along the coastline.

Brogan Proud, who owns Yorkshire Coast Pet Care, suggested owners should ensure their animals avoid eating anything if they do visit the beach and to wash them afterwards in case a toxin is to blame.

She wrote on the company’s Facebook page: “I work within several practices up and down the North East coast and we have recently been inundated with dogs coming off the beaches with vomiting and diarrhoea.

“Personally until the local authorities have got to the bottom of it I would not recommend taking your pets on the beach for the foreseeable future.”

She later added: “Unfortunately there doesn’t seem to be any correlation other than contact with the beach so maybe ensure they don’t eat anything on the beach and wash them off if they’ve been to the beach in case it is a toxin or similar.

“If your pet is unable to keep food and water down then they should be taken to your vet for support.”

The veterinary nurse also warned dogs and birds could spread the illness through their faeces to surrounding areas such as cliffs.

Hundreds of dog owners came forward to share their own accounts of pets falling ill following walks along most of the coastline stretching from Hull up to Whitley Bay.

One man said his dog had to be put down after it developed breathing difficulties following a Christmas Day walk on Bridlington Beach, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

While a five-month-old puppy ended up spending six nights at a veterinary practice after falling ill with sickness and “terrible diarrhoea” following a trip to nearby Fraisthorpe Beach.

Another dog owner said she had never seen her dog “so lethargic and literally not moving” after suffering the same symptoms following a trip to Whitby beach on New Year’s Day.

East Riding of Yorkshire Council confirmed the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Animal and Plant Health Agency were aware of the incidents.

Kirsty Salisbury, general manager of coastal services for the local authority, said: “From reports from local veterinary surgeries, the illness they are seeing within dogs and the tests carried out have not provided any direct links with the use of beaches.

“It appears that many dogs are becoming unwell even though they have not visited beaches, so it may be that this is a general illness amongst dogs.

“Our coastal services team regularly inspect the beaches for signs of any irregular occurrences and at present there is nothing unusual; however, this will continue to be monitored and action will be taken, if and when necessary.”

Scarborough Borough Council added in a statement: “We are aware of reports of dogs presenting with a sickness and diarrhoea type illness in our borough and also in neighboring areas to the north and south.

“The cause of the illness, and the locations it appears to be linked to, are unclear.

“While dogs walked on beaches have been affected, we have also read reports from dog owners that the same symptoms are affecting dogs only walked at inland locations away from beaches.

“We are in discussions with our partner organizations to gather intelligence and carry out investigations into possible causes.”

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