A Lincoln vet and dog training business is warning owners to monitor what their dogs pick up on the West Common after a series of reported deaths.
According to Happy Paws Dog Training, situated close to the West Common, three dogs have died after walks on the ground in the past fortnight.
Owner of the business, Fern Ember, says two of the three dogs picked up rabbit bones or carcasses when walking on the West Common.
Afterwards, all three were taken to vets with severe gastric symptoms and convulsions.
It’s believed due to the nature of the symptoms seen in these dogs, such as a bile-like sickness and lethargy, causing quick deterioration, that it is a form of poisoning.
It is not thought to be linked to Seasonal Canine Illness, which is affecting woods in certain parts of the region.
David Beech, partner at Lincoln Veterinary Hospital, said: “The best advice is to keep your dog on a lead.
“However it is difficult to stop a dog from picking things up. It can also be hard to see what a dog is doing, such as when they’re in long grass with their head down; it’s hard to tell if they are eating something or just sniffing.
“You often don’t know they’ve picked something up until they’ve already done it. A number of our patients will come in having not seen their dog pick anything up, but we’ll remove a bone, corn on a cob and so on.
“Dogs do pick up and eat a lot of things they find, and in most cases it will pass through their systems.
“There are a lot of poisons out there now, so who knows which one this could be? If you suspect you dog is ill due to poisoning though, take them to the vet as soon as possible.”
Fern Ember is working alongside local vets and the Environmental Health Agency to establish the cause of the deaths. She added: “Please be extra vigilant with your dogs if you walk on West common, or the golf course at Carholme Road.
“We know the second dog picked up a raw bone the morning that she died, and that it looked as if it was probably a rabbit bone. The third, a greyhound, had also eaten a rabbit carcass.”
Caroline Bird, Community Services Manager at the City of Lincoln Council, said: “This is an issue we have just been made aware of, and clearly the council is very concerned to hear about it.
“We are not aware of any possible causes but will remain vigilant to see if we can be of any assistance.
“We would advise people to keep their dogs on a lead if they have any concerns and seek immediate help from a vet if they show any symptoms of being unwell.”
Ember added: “If any rabbit carcasses are handed-in to us, we will be taking them to the environmental health department and asking them to carry out toxicology analyses on them.”
She is also asking that if anyone walks their dogs on the common and spots a rabbit bone or carcass, that it be bagged up and the Happy Paws team will collect it from them to analyse it.
The Environmental Health Agency will then be able to do a toxicology report on the carcasses to determine the problem. To get in touch with Happy Paws team regarding the illness or a rabbit carcass, contact 07920018038.