Late summer and autumn, with their warmer temperatures, but without the scorching sun of July, can be a fantastic time to make the most of adventures with your dog! But they can also come with an increased risk of Seasonal Canine Illness (SCI). Although SCI remains rare in the UK, it can be fatal if not detected early. That’s why we’re helping you know the facts about SCI and what to look out for. Read on to find out more!

Seasonal Canine Illness - small dog in woods.

What is it?

SCI was first diagnosed in the UK in 2009, and remains rare. Instances of the illness have occurred all over the country, but cases have been mainly concentrated around East Anglia and the Midlands. It’s a disease usually contracted between August and November, and has been reported occurring after walks through woodland areas.


The cause of SCI remains a mystery to scientists, although it’s thought that harvest mites could be a contributing factor. Harvest mites are found across the country, usually in long grass, bushes and plants. They are known to jump onto and feed from small mammals such as dogs. However, dogs can become infested with mites anyway without contracting SCI, so as yet the link is unproven.

Seasonal Canine Illness - happy spaniel running over bridge.

What to look out for

The symptoms of SCI usually develop within three days, and they are:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Muscle tremors

If you notice any of these signs in your dog, you should contact your vet straight away, especially if you have walked them through woodland within the past 72 hours.

Diagnosing SCI

Your vet will most likely perform a variety of tests to diagnose a dog with SCI. Many of the symptoms resemble those related to other gastrointestinal issues, so these need to be ruled out. As the cause of SCI isn’t yet known, vets can only treat its symptoms. They might use rehydration therapy, antibiotics or other treatments. The good news is that, if caught early, the recovery rate is high!

Seasonal Canine Illness - woman walks Jack Russell Terrier through woods.


Preventing dogs from picking up SCI can be difficult, since its cause is a mystery. What we do know is that it can be contracted from woodland, so when walking in the woods you might want to keep your dog on their lead, remain vigilant and check their skin for mites. You could also speak to your vet about using a preventative spray to guard your dog against harvest mites.

A final method of prevention is to talk about SCI! Spreading awareness might help other dog owners to exercise more caution when walking their pooch during autumn. If you’re concerned about your dog contracting an illness you might want to consider taking out dog insurance which might help with the cost of care. At The Insurance Emporium, we offer a range of Dog Insurance with cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000* and up to 30% discount^ available. Head to The Insurance Emporium to find out more!

* Cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000 available on lunar monthly Lifetime Gold policies only.

^ The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies.

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