By Duncan Kennedy
Vets have issued a warning to dog owners after seeing a spike in cases of the dog disease Alabama Rot.
Anderson Moores Vets in Winchester has been investigating the deadly disease in the UK for more than a decade.
The disease, which can cause kidney failure, has led to the deaths of 318 dogs in the UK since 2012 - with 10 dying so far this year.
Owners are being urged to check for skin lesions and wash pets after muddy walks, to curb the risk of the disease.
What causes Alabama Rot, also known as CRGV (cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy) which vets describe as very rare, is unknown.
They believe it could be bacteria or a toxin.
If a dog contracts Alabama rot there is only a 10% chance it can be saved.
Joshua Walker, a vet at Anderson Moores, said: "We know the disease is associated with increasing rainfall and increasing temperatures in the autumn.
"It might be that the very wet, slightly warmer November has led to a surge in cases - it's important for everyone to be aware of the signs."
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Skin lesions are normally found on the feet, legs, chest and abdomen of an affected pet, which can look like bites, sores, wounds or stings.
Some dogs go on to develop life-threatening kidney failure.
Mr Walker said: "If walking in the woods, particularly between November and May when most cases have been reported, as a precaution wash off any areas with mud.
"We don't know if that will prevent the disease but that seems like a reasonable thing to do to try and reduce transmission."
He added: "It's important for everyone to be aware of the signs. If you do see an unexplained lesion, particularly if your dog is unwell, go to you local vets.
"Research is ongoing and we hope a cause will be forthcoming."
She has urged dog owner's to "get to know the symptoms".
Any age, sex, or breed of dog can be affected - though to date there have been more cases in Labradors, spaniels and Hungarian vizslas.
The disease was first discovered in the US during the late 1980s. In the UK, cases are mostly seen in winter months.
What are the symptoms of Alabama rot?
- Skin sores, visible swelling, red patch or skin defects not caused by a known injury. These skin lesions typically appear below the knee or elbow, and occasionally on the face or at the bottom of the chest or abdomen.
- Changes in appetite - reduced appetite, drinking more, vomiting and lethargy are signs of acute kidney injury.
- Remember, the majority of visible skin lesions will not be caused by Alabama rot disease, and most cases of kidney failure will be a result of another cause.
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