The RSPCA says it is aware of the illness and is urging any dog owners who notice the signs to seek advice from their vet ‘immediately’.
The virus appears to create ‘gastroenteritis-like symptoms’, including sickness and diarrhoea, and vets have shared their advice after noticing a spike in cases across the county.
Initial reports on the cases have suggested they were first found in dogs and puppies who had visited beaches in North Yorkshire, with vet practices in the area urging owners to avoid certain parts of Scaborough and Saltburn.
Multiple owners have also taken to social media to share their experiences of the virus, with one person in Sheffield saying there is a ‘nasty bug doing the rounds that will knock your dog off its feet’.
But the British Veterinary Association has said it will not speculate on the cause or origin of the illness.
It has instead urged people to remain vigilant and keep an eye out for the symptoms of the virus.
President Dr Justine Shutton said: “We are aware of a recent spike in cases of dogs falling ill from gastroenteritis-like symptoms in several parts of Yorkshire and North East England. Vets see gastroenteritis cases relatively commonly in practice, but numbers seem to be increasing and more widespread than usual.
“At this time, we can't speculate on what might be causing the symptoms, and there is currently no evidence to suggest a direct link between the illness and the dogs visiting the beaches. We’ve heard reports from vets in the area who are really far inland and they are also seeing an increase in these kinds of cases in dogs that have never been to the beach, so I’m not sure yet if we have enough information to make that link.
“With gastroenteritis, most cases are mild, but some dogs may need hospitalisation with a drip. In the worst situations, it can become haemorrhagic leading to secondary complications or even death, but that is very rare.”
She also said that these kind of illnesses are more common in winter and that a rise in cases at this time of year is not always unusual.
Dr Shutton added: “While pet owners are understandably worried, the cases may be part of a normal increase in gastroenteritis that vets see during the colder months. We saw something similar a couple of years ago, and the latest data from the University of Liverpool’s veterinary surveillance database points to the spike being part of normal seasonal variation at the moment.
“Our advice to concerned owners is to contact their local vet for prompt treatment if their dog shows any signs of illness, such as vomiting and diarrhoea.”
The RSPCA said young puppies could be particularly susceptible to the illness and that it is imperative to seek medical advice immediately if you notice any of the symptoms.
The Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs has also said it is aware of these cases and owners should contact a vet if their dog becomes ill.