Peterborough dog owners warned of further illness risk to pets in flooded areas

Carol Jones from Vets Now Peterborough.Carol Jones from Vets Now Peterborough.
Carol Jones from Vets Now Peterborough.
Dog owners in Peterborough are being warned to be cautious after a rise in flood waters this week, bringing potentially dangerous illnesses.

Haemorrhagic gastroenteritis (HGE) is a condition that causes vomiting and diarrhoea that contains blood, caused by bacteria that attacks the lining of the gut.

Vets at pet emergency service Vets Now have seen 15 cases over 2019 and 2020 at their emergency clinic in Peterborough, and have treated four HGE cases in January 2021 alone.

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While the teams are unable to say whether any of these cases are linked directly to flood waters, they are urging dog owners to be careful when walking their dogs in flooded areas.


Carol Jones, senior veterinary surgeon from Vets Now Peterborough said: “We’ve not seen any cases in our emergency clinic in Peterborough that we can link directly to flood water but ingesting any water outdoors is certainly a potential risk factor.

“And of course, there are specific risks with flood waters as the water could be contaminated with sewage, bacteria and parasites. You should always avoid letting your dog swim in flood waters, and avoid walking through contaminated areas.

“If they do come into contact, you need to rinse them down immediately. And be extra mindful of persistent vomiting and diarrhoea and to call your vets immediately.

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“Take extra hygiene precautions for yourself by deep cleaning any mess areas and thorough handwashing.”

There have been reports of a number of dogs in the Ortons suffering from hemorrhagic gastroenteritis.

Helen Harris, whose dog, Ripley, a six month old Hungarian Vizsla, was taken to hospital in Cambridge after suffering sepsis after falling ill, warned fellow pet owners of the risk.

Helen said Ripley had fallen ill after being taken for a walk along the path along Oundle Road near the Harvester. She said; “We have been walking him along there for some time, but last Wednesday he came home and vomited. This was not a concern at that point, but then he did the same again.

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“We took him to the vets, and he gave him an anti-nausea injection.

“He was still bright at the time, but that evening, he wasn’t into his food and water.

“He became restless, and was just drooling. We took him to the vets, but his temperature was fine, his heart rate was fine. He was just uncomfortable.

“On Friday morning we woke up early and he wanted to go out urgently, and then did bloody diarrhoea.

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“We took him to the vets, but his condition deteriorated, and he developed sepsis.”

Helen also said she had heard of a number of other dogs in the Ortons suffering similar problems.

She said: “I put a post on Facebook about it, and I know a few other people have reported their dogs have had similar symptoms.

“The vet said there was a nasty bug going around, but it is impossible to say where it was picked up from.

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“It is important for dogs to get checked out if they show symptoms. Ripley was very ill, and I understand at least one other dog was too.”

A spokesman at Nene Park said: “We have recently been made aware of reports that hemorrhagic gastroenteritis has affected a number of dogs in the local area of the Park.

“This condition, resulting in sickness and bloody diarrhoea, may be due to a waterborne bug, so owners may wish to take care that their dogs avoid playing in and drinking from puddles, rivers and lakes for the time being.”

Vet Anna Ewers Clark of national veterinary charity PDSA has also offered some advice after seeing a number of cases at their clinics across the country:

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“We would always advise keeping your dog away from flood water, and it’s very important not to let them swim or drink from the flood water as it can contain harmful bacteria, especially as it is often contaminated.

“It’s better to carry a supply of water and a bowl which your dog can drink from safely.”

Anna said that as flood water is usually dark in colour, so it can be difficult to assess the depth of the water and there can be very strong currents - especially in flooded rivers - which might not be visible from the surface.

“Flood water can also contain lots of debris or sharp objects that could hurt or cut your dog,” she said.

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“If you are walking in a flooded field or near a flood, we would recommend keeping your dog away from the flood as much as possible by calling them back or putting them on the lead in order to keep them safe.”

PDSA has a dedicated section of their website on keeping your dog safe during flooding, which can be found at

What is HGE?

HGE occurs when fluid, protein and red blood cells leak into the gut. Left untreated it can quickly lead to life-threatening dehydration, and in some cases septic shock, as a consequence of a dramatic drop in blood volume and the immune system being overwhelmed.

While no one knows the exact origins of all the causes of HGE, it’s believed a proportion of the most serious cases are caused by a bacteria called clostridium perfringens, which is commonly found on raw meat and poultry.

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Other theories have ranged from parasites and toxins to allergic reactions to food.

The illness tends to be more common in small breeds, especially Yorkshire Terriers, Miniature Schnauzers and Maltese.

Symptoms of HGE include diarrhoea and vomiting often containing blood, a painful abdomen, pale gums, lethargy and a reduced appetite.

If you are concerned that your dog has contracted the illness, contact your vet straight away as if your dog isn’t treated quickly, HGE can become a very serious condition and, in some cases, can cause death.

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However, if HGE is treated quickly, usually with a drip to give lifesaving fluids, anti-sickness medication, small bland meals and antibiotics, it is likely your dog will make a full recovery within a few days.

(Source: PDSA)

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