A POTENTIALLY fatal canine virus has hit north Essex’s dog population.

Vets at The Forge Veterinary Centre on Head Street, Halstead, have noticed a number of dogs showing similar troubling symptoms.

Dogs have been treated for excessive vomiting and diarrhoea in a worrying number of cases with vets at the centre now believing a potentially lethal virus is to blame.

The bug has been reported at a number of locations across the country.

Emily Nightingale is one of the vets at the centre and contacted the newspaper to warn dog owners.

She said: “We are assuming this is a virus.

“Worms and parasites are unlikely causes because all of the dogs have been dewormed and when you rule out other factors like the dogs eating things they aren’t supposed to, it can only really be bacterial or a virus.

“It can be life threatening, even to young, fit and healthy dogs.

“The frequent vomiting and diarrhoea can leave them dehydrated which can then lead to organ failure.

“The longer they go on without treatment, the more intensive the care that is needed.

“Symptoms have included the dogs vomiting for five days, having diarrhoea, being lethargic, having blood in their stools, not eating and we’ve had to have them on a drip.

“With intensive treatment, we’ve been able to send them home.

“If you have any concerns please contact your vet especially at the first signs.”

Cases of the bug have also been picked up at the centre’s sister practice The Aldham Veterinary Centre near Colchester where there have been more dogs brought in for treatment.