Pet owners warned against walking their dogs after mystery illness

Dog walking
(Image credit: Getty)

Pet owners have been warned about walking their dogs on beaches after hundreds of pets have been hit by a mystery illness.

The warning first came to light after a vet was "inundated" with sick dogs on the 10th of January and comes after people were wondering 'can pets get coronavirus?'.

A dog virus notably swept the country back in 2019 and last year an Instagram trend was carrying a hidden danger to pets.

Now Brogan Proud, a veterinary nurse, has issued a wider warning to members of the public in the hope of alerting pet owners to the current risk to their pet's health after dog walking on beaches, especially in and around Yorkshire.

More than 150 pets have been struck by a mystery vomiting and diarrhoea bug after their owners have walked them on Yorkshire beaches including Bridlington, Scarborough and Hornsea but it's not yet known how widespread the issue is as more reports surface.

It is still not known what is causing the illness and local authorities are currently testing for clues.

The veterinary pro wrote on Facebook, “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 added,

It is not yet known if the mystery illness is just related to that region or whether it's something on land or is entering via the sea.

dog with vet Female veterinarian holding a little schnauzer in her arms while standing in her office

Credit: Getty

Sharing her own experience of her pet falling ill, one Facebook user responded to say, “I walked my two-year-old on Whitby beach on New Year’s Day and the next day sickness and diarrhoea.

“I have never seen my dog so lethargic and literally not moving – thankfully vets back home have sorted him out.”

Another pet owner had a similar experience.

“My six-month-old Labrador has had horrendous diarrhoea for the past four days, thankfully he’s now almost back to his usual self," she penned.

“I was going to contact the vets today if there was no improvement. We have walked on both the beach at Robin Hood's Bay and the railway line at Bay/Thorpe.”

And since the issue was made public, more people have been coming forward with similar stories, which has prompted concern from the vet.

"It just seems to be much higher numbers than I thought," the vet continued.

“I know the local authorities have been testing, they can't find anything as of yet.

“They are trying to get to the bottom of it but at the moment there isn't anything that they can offer me as to what's happening and what's going on.”

One resident pointed out on Twitter, 'I wonder if all the dogs falling ill after walking on Yorkshire beaches is connected to vast amounts of sewage being pumped into rivers & onto coastlines.'

She continued, “I've had a lot of people message me different theories but none of them have got any evidence or facts to back them up.

“So at the moment there is nothing that seems to be causing it.

“The only reason that I know it's happening is because I'm seeing it first-hand.”

There are around 42 beaches that people have been told to avoid, including Filey Bay and Runswick Bay. The stretch of coastline runs between Hull and Middlesbrough, on the east coast of England.

Kirsty Salisbury, General Coastal Manager of East Riding, said, "We are aware of reports on social media and in the local press of dogs becoming unwell following visiting areas of local beaches in the northern part of our coastline. We have been liaising with external partners during the course of yesterday to try and establish a cause, whilst also liaising with local colleagues, and also nationally.

"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. We would advise that, if your pet becomes unwell and has continuing sickness and diarrhoea, you should make an appointment to have your pet seen. 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.

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She continued, "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.  We encourage people to be aware and mindful, and if they are on the beach, or anywhere, not to let their dogs off the lead, so that owners can see what the dogs are picking up and potentially eating."

It's understood the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) is aware of the incidents and is in contact with the Animal and Plant Health Agency.

If you are unsure of anything whilst using the affected beach areas, you can contact Coastal Services team on 01262 678255 or email

Selina Maycock
Senior Entertainment Writer

Selina is currently a Senior Entertainment Writer for, formerly Senior Entertainment writer for Woman&Home, and My Imperfect Life and has more than 16 years of experience in newspapers, magazines and online. She currently writes a mix of Entertainment news - including celebrity births, weddings and reality show line-ups including Strictly, Dancing On Ice and The Great British Bake Off, reporting the the latest news about the Royal kids Prince George, Charlotte, Louis, Archie and Lilibet as well as Family news stories from baby names to store closures and product recall warnings. Before joining Future Publishing, Selina graduated from the University of Sheffield in 2006 with a degree in Journalism. She is fully NCTJ and NCE qualified and has 100wpm shorthand. When she's not interviewing celebrities you can find her exploring new countryside walking routes, catching up with friends over good food, or making memories.