‘Mystery’ dog virus: Burgess Hill cockapoo falls ill with vomiting and weakness symptoms

As concerns grow about a ‘mystery’ dog virus spreading across the UK, a Burgess Hill dog owner has shared his family’s story of how their pet cockapoo became ill with the symptoms.

Lee Rae-Byford, 50, who lives in the town with his wife and daughter, said he thinks his three-year-old dog Skye picked up the bug – which has gastroenteritis-like symptoms – after a trip to Lancing beach.

Lee, of The Cogfather Bike Repair, said his family took Skye to the coast while the tide was out at 3pm on Bank Holiday Monday (January 3).

“We just walked for about an hour, maybe less, just as it got dark,” he said.

Three-year-old cockapoo Skye from Burgess Hill who has made a full recovery. Picture: Lee Rae-Byford.

“Skye is a typical cockapoo, full of energy and was chasing her ball,” Lee added.

“We didn’t notice her eat anything or do anything unusual,” he said, explaining that she knows not to drink seawater.

Lee said Skye seemed happy at the beach, but while they were driving back to Burgess Hill on the A23 she started vomiting about 20 minutes into the journey.

He said she has ‘never been a sicky dog’ but the way she was vomiting was ‘very physical’.

Burgess Hill resident Lee Rae-Byford with three-year-old cockapoo Skye who has made a full recovery. Picture: Lee Rae-Byford.

“I’ve never known her to be sick like it,” said Lee, adding that it was like ‘white foam’ coming up.

Lee became worried that Skye had ingested something bad and even feared she had been poisoned, so he rushed her to an emergency vets in Patcham.

The vets could not figure out why she was vomiting, said Lee, but they thought she might have swallowed something or got something stuck in her throat.

They also suggested it might be laryngitis.

The vets kept her in overnight to anesthetise her, look down her throat and give her an x-ray, he said.

The next day Skye was eating and drinking a bit so Lee picked her up.

“For about a week after that she was very listless, very tired, looking very sorry for herself,” he said.

“She was occasionally still doing the dry heaving but not actually being sick.”

“She was really not herself at all and sleeping a lot,” said Lee, adding that she had some diarrhoea too.

Thankfully, Skye began to eat properly and perked up on the seventh day.

“By the end of the day she’d got all of her energy back, and she was charging around, wanting to go out for a walk,” said Lee.

Lee is now warning other dog owners about the bug and to be careful about where they take their pets.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else to go through what we’ve been through because leaving your dog overnight in a vets, not really knowing what’s wrong, it’s horrible,” he said.

He said he cannot be sure this was the ‘mystery bug’ going around but thinks it is likely.

The British Veterinary Association has said that reports of ‘gastroenteritis-like symptoms’ had sparked speculation that this canine illness could be linked with visits to beaches.

Common symptoms reported by owners so far include dogs being weak and listless, shaking and vomiting.

BVA president Justine Shotton has advised owners not to panic and to see their vet if they have any concerns.