Fears have been raised that dogs swimming in rivers are being harmed by sewage.

Pet owners have taken to social media to report sickness in dogs that have been in the water in Eynsham recently.

One said their pet suffered diarrhoea, lethargy and was put off their food which they found very upsetting.

"I've stopped my dog drinking from the ditches and streams now," the owner added.

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Another said they knew of a dog that had become "gravely ill" and was rushed to vets in Woodstock in the night.

Witney Gazette: south leigh april 23

"I think something needs to be done to see if we can get to the bottom of this," the poster wrote.

She added that it had been a "very traumatic time" and included a £3,000 bill.

A third pet owner added: "My friend's dog just sadly passed away with similar symptoms, all so tragic. 

"I am waiting to hear back from the council as I reported that it seems many dogs are getting ill in Eynsham."

Another said a dog had a weekend stay at the emergency vets.

Vet Fiona Miller from Medivet Eynsham said it was not really possible to make the link between dogs getting ill and sewage in the rivers and they could not give that sort of definitive diagnosis.

A vet based in Woodstock added dogs contract gastrointestinal illnesses all the time, often drinking from muddy puddles and they had not noticed a pattern.

It would be necessary to know exactly what was in the water before being able to make a link, they said.

Witney Gazette: south leigh april 21

But chairman of Windrush Against Sewage Pollution, Ash Smith, said he is speaking to vets in Eynsham and Botley as the Wharf Stream carries treated and untreated sewage and the Thames is doing the same.

He said: "It is a highly polluted area by South Leigh - with untreated discharges over 1,482 hours in 2022 - despite almost a year of disruption to residents over so-called maintenance.

"This is discharging to the Limb Brook and that joins the Wharf Stream and Chill Brook which join the Thames by the Talbot pub at Eynsham." 

He added: "I have two dogs and I am very careful about where I let them drink or swim, having spent about five years looking into this murky business.

"It is not at all easy to link sickness in dogs to pollution events - vets don't do that sort of follow-up - but we can point to the smoking gun of a dreadful outfall at South Leigh."

A spokesman for the British Veterinary Association has said it was not aware of specific cases of dogs being poisoned by sewage, although there were reports in January that some dogs with aspiration pneumonia could have got it as a result of swimming in polluted sea water.

At the time the association stated that sea water may contain bacteria, even in unpolluted areas, and inhalation of any foreign material, including sea water, could lead to aspiration pneumonia in dogs.

Meanwhile Thames Water said discharges of diluted sewage are only one of the many sources of pollutants in rivers.

A spokesman said: "Animal faeces from livestock and wildlife, along with run off from farms and roads, also contribute to the hazards found in rivers.

“We are the first company to provide storm overflow alerts for inland waters and this near real-time data is available to customers as a map on our website.

"Our online map only indicates our storm overflow activity, not the other potential hazards in watercourses.

"With so many different factors affecting the water quality and safety of watercourses we support the government’s advice on open water swimming.

“Taking action to improve the health of rivers is a key focus for us and we want to make discharges of diluted sewage unnecessary as quickly as possible.

"We have a £2.5million upgrade planned for South Leigh sewage treatment works which is expected to be completed in 2024.”