With reports of a particularly vicious vomiting bug spreading among dogs in the UK, here's everything you need to know.

Q. What is this vomiting bug?

A. At the moment, nobody knows for sure. SAVSNET, a veterinary research organisation based at the University of Liverpool, has been monitoring the outbreak through an online questionnaire of the owners of affected pets to find out more about it. Vet David Harris, of website VetHelpDirect.com, says the likeliest answer is "a sort of doggy norovirus".

Q. My dog is vomiting, but that's happened before. How can I tell if it's this?

A. The vomiting is "unusual in its multiplicity and relentlessness," according to vet Dr Danielle Greenberg. Affected dogs vomit very forcefully every 10 minutes, typically 4 to 8 times. The vomiting may stop overnight and then start again, often after the dog tries to drink water.

Q. Are there other symptoms?

A. Yes. Most affected dogs have "gravy-like" diarrhoea, can stop eating for up to 5 days after vomiting stops, and can seem lethargic for 2 to 3 days.

Q. How many cases have been reported?

A. So far 474 cases have been reported to SAVSNET. Of these, 59 cases are described as 'current'. The locations are widespread throughout England and Wales, with one report in Northern Ireland and a few in Scotland.

Q. How serious is it? Could my dog die?

A. Of those 474 reported cases, four of the dogs died - although SAVSNET says it can't say for sure whether the deaths are due to the vomiting bug or other factors. Most dogs make a full recovery.

Q. Can humans catch this bug?

A. At the moment there is no suggestion that people or other animals can catch this illness. It's just affecting dogs.

Q. What can I do if my dog is affected?

A. Go to your vet - they'll know what to do, and most dogs have responded well to treatment and made a full recovery. Owners are also encouraged to fill in the SAVSNET questionnaire.