Dog owners have been advised to be vigilant after a new case of a ‘very rare’ disease was confirmed in Sussex this week.
Vets have confirmed a case of the disease Alabama Rot, which affects dogs’ skin and kidneys and unfortunately is fatal in most cases, in Findon, West Sussex.
Dog owners are advised to remain ‘calm but vigilant’ and seek advice if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.
Julian Hoad, a vet from Worthing, said: “The disease is still very rare and even though the highest number of cases was reported in 2017 this amounted to 40 dogs in the whole of the UK.
“So, there is absolutely no need for panic but owners should look out for the tell-tale signs and contact their vet immediately if they are concerned.”
The case in Findon is one of 29 confirmed cases so far in the UK in 2018.
What to look out for
Early symptoms are normally lesions or sores appearing on a dog’s skin and paws that are red areas often with black centres and a distinct swelling, Mr Hoad said.
They will not have been caused by any known injury.
These are often seen on the lower limbs or the belly.
These symptoms can then develop into sickness in the next few days.
Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, who are leading experts on Alabama Rot in the UK, have advised dog owners to wash their dog’s paws, legs and bellies after walking in muddy and wooded areas.
However, there is no known way of preventing a dog from contracting the disease, a spokesman said.
While it is not known what causes the disease, it does seem there is an increased risk between the months of November and March.
The highest number of confirmed cases in the UK have been in Greater Manchester, Dorset, Devon and the New Forest in Hampshire.
David Walker, the UK’s leading expert on the condition, from Anderson Moores, said: “With 29 cases in 2018 already, it is understandably very worrying for dog owners, but we hope the increase in cases is partially due to a higher awareness and understanding of the disease.
“Although the figures have doubled since 2016, it is important that dog owners remain calm, but vigilant for signs of the disease, particularly over the coming months, as we are now in the peak season for cases of the disease.”
Unlike the Alabama Rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in the UK does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog.
Mr Walker said: “Treatment is supportive, but is only successful in around 20 per cent of cases.”
“If a dog becomes affected, the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care at a specialist facility such as Anderson Moores.
“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.
“This will help build knowledge about the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.”