DEFRA has confirmed it is aware after a veterinary group issued an urgent warning to dog walkers on North Yorkshire beaches.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs confirmed to the T&A's sister paper, The Northern, Echo it is aware after dogs fell ill with 'sickness and diarrhoea.'

The Yorkshire Coast Pet Care, which has practices up and down the region, this week revealed it had been "inundated" with poorly pets after reportedly visiting the beach.

The group did not reveal the exact locations of cases, but on Tuesday morning said the issue had become "more rife" than originally expected.

In a warning, it urged dog owners to avoid the beach and report symptoms of sickness to the local authority in charge and inform the vet.

It said: "I work within several practices up and down the North East coast and we have recently been inundated with dogs coming off the beaches with vomiting and diarrhoea.

"Personally until the local authorities have got to the bottom of it I would not recommend taking your pets on the beach for the foreseeable future.

"I have been in touch with governing bodies and they are currently looking into it.

"If your dog is showing symptoms please let the local authorities aware as well as seeking veterinary attention should your pet need it."

Dozens of pet owners have been taking to social media to report the same symptoms in recent days across the North East.

Gazette & Herald:

One dog owner said: "My little dog goes to Redcar beach every morning, she’s been poorly since last Friday sick and diarrhoea.

"Very sleepy (and) not her usual self at all now."

Another said: "Our puppy was ill from Thursday, we never realised it could be the beach.

"Until we walked him on South Bay, Scarborough again Saturday evening. Sunday he was ill with sickness and upset tummy again."

Thankfully, there have not been any reports of deaths.

It comes as the authorities are still believed to be investigating the death of thousands of crabs as they became washed up on the region's beaches last year.

Chemical pollution and sewage were ruled out as possible causes, but the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas) said probes continued.

Since the death of the crabs, there has been no suggestion that dogs are at risk from visiting those beaches affected.

This evening, DEFRA confirmed that it is aware of reports and said it is contact with the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

APHA is responsible for identifying and controlling "endemic, exotic diseases and pests" in animals, plants and bees, and surveillance of new and emerging pests and diseases.