Dear Supporters,  


Canine gastroenteritis - a guest blog by Melissa Donald BVMS MRCVS

Border Terrier Welfare have been concerned to see so many Borders affected by a severe gastro bug that seems to be affecting the Border Terrier, and wider dog community, across the UK.  We asked vet Melissa Donald, a Border owner herself, to give us an overview to avoid the mis-information that can sometimes occur.  

Here in her guest blog for BTW, she explains what it is, when to seek veterinary help and also how you (and your vet) can help with some important and urgent research being carried out on the issue.

New Year New Bug?

Recently there seems to have been an increase in poorly dogs suffering from gastro-enteritis (vomiting and diarrhoea) so I thought I’d summarise what has been going on so far, rather than allowing social media to be the source of the gospel.

What is it?

Small Animal Veterinary Surveillance Network (SAVSNET) is on the case and is calling it ‘Prolific Vomiting in Dogs’ at the moment as no known cause has yet been identified.

Prolific vomiting is considered to be 5 or more episodes in a 12-hour period. It has been seen across the country. Diarrhoea can sometimes be present (not always) and the dogs are understandably a bit lethargic. 

What can you do?

So, what should you do if you are suspicious of your dog suffering from this?

Vulnerable dogs
If you have a young dog (less than 6 months old) or a senior dog (this is harder to define, but usually at least 8 years old) or if your dog is suffering from other known issues or is taking regular medication then it is simple, get to your vet sooner rather than later. The vet can administer drugs to stop the vomiting, can ensure they are not getting dehydrated and possibly substitute injections of their regular medications instead of tablets if nothing is staying down. They can also monitor kidney function if necessary, which if problematic, can cause further problems if not addressed promptly.

Fit and healthy dogs
However, if your dog is between these ages, fit and healthy, then should you wait or go? If the vomiting continues for 24 hours despite just getting sips of water (not a bowlful at a time), then if it were my dog, I’d be making an appointment. If the dog is listless or their breath stinks (more than usual!) or you are just not happy with how the dog is, then again, make an appointment as you, the owner, are the best judge; better safe than sorry.

Antibiotics are unlikely to be prescribed at this point as there does not seem to be any justification. Most likely to get injections to stop the vomiting, oral rehydration solutions to give by mouth and possibly prescription diet, with or without pro-biotics to help with the diarrhoea.

Prolific vomiting or gastroenteritis from another cause?

Don’t forget, it may not be this new condition.  Gastroenteritis (in its many forms) has been around a long time as have dogs eating things they shouldn’t have (don’t think this is the time to mention the thong that was eaten – but don’t worry, it had just been washed prior to ingestion!).

Veterinary practices have a range of diagnostic tools to assist them with diagnosis, from blood testing, x-ray and ultrasound imaging to exploratory surgery to determine or rule out the cause of gastroenteritis and ensure they are best placed to help your dog.  If you are worried, then make an appointment with your local vet. 

Help the research

As mentioned SAVSNET is conducting research on this very issue at the moment and you can find more details on their study and how to complete their online survey by clicking on the image below.

Please encourage your vet to fill out the SAVSNET survey and as an owner of a dog who has suffered with prolific vomiting, or you can also complete it too!

About Melissa

Melissa Donald BVMS MRCVS is a vet with over 30 years first opinion practice experience.

She lives in Ayrshire, Scotland with her Border Terrier, Otta (@OttaBoss), a daft chocolate labrador, Poppy, several working Border Collies and her long suffering husband Kenny.

A word of thanks

We are especially grateful to Melissa for providing this overview in her guest blog on what is a potentially serious issue and if your dog has been poorly, we wish them a speedy recovery.


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