The owners of a dog which died on Friday are wondering if their pooch has fallen victim to an unknown illness that killed another dog and affected three others last month.

Napier couple Ross Charters and Dinah Taylor had to say a rushed goodbye to 12-year-old Goldie after she rapidly deteriorated. The day that usually marked the Shiba Inu's birthday would now also mark her death.

"It was not good timing," Miss Taylor said.

This comes just one month after Napier's Robyn Graham lost her 2-year-old bichon frise/shih tzu cross, Polly, to an unknown illness.

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Polly had died in an equally as short space of time.

The vet who treated Polly said she occasionally treated dogs with similar symptoms, but the week Polly died was "out of the ordinary for vomiting dogs with explosive and bloody diarrhoea".

There were four cases in three days with no commonality except all were living in Hawke's Bay.

Last Wednesday morning Goldie had vomited, but Miss Taylor thought nothing of it.

Goldie perked up and was taken for a walk, before becoming lethargic that night.

Uncharacteristically she stayed outside on a wet night instead of settling into her bean bag. The next morning she refused to go for a walk, managing only a few steps. A "huge mess" was then discovered on the verandah, "bloody diarrhoea ... we were just shocked".

Carlyle Vet Clinic, where Goldie was taken, was unable to comment on the case yesterday , but Miss Taylor said the dog was "pumped full of things" in case she had eaten rat bait or poison.

Goldie died during the night.

"It is losing a family member," Mr Charters said. "She had a little fan club - everywhere we went people wanted to pat her."

Miss Taylor said Goldie was a distinctive dog because she was a Japanese pure breed. Her nickname was "little old lady".

Goldie had been re-homed with the couple when she was age 4. "I can't see us having another dog, it was just incredibly sad."

The owners said they contacted the Ministry of Primary Industries and were waiting to hear back from the vet, and it was hoped a post-mortem could be carried out.