DOG owners are being warned to look out for the signs of a deadly disease which has struck in south Warwickshire.
Cases of Alabama Rot have been on the rise in the UK with two dogs in Claverdon and Rugby among the 150 affected since the first cases were confirmed in 2012.
Little is understood about the skin and kidney disease – which originated in the US state of Alabama in the 1980s – but vets believe it is picked up by walking dogs in muddy wooded areas.
It is not known whether the two local dogs survived the disease, but in most cases it proves fatal.
A spokesman from Avonvale vets – which has centres across south Warwickshire – said: “Dogs of any age or breed can be affected. Alabama Rot is an extremely rare condition that has affected only a small number of dogs in the UK.
“The cause is unknown although there appears to be a link with dogs walked in some woodland areas. We know that Alabama rot cannot spread to other dogs or to people from an affected dog.”
Despite little being known about the disease, cases are nearly always reported in spring and winter.
Symptoms include a lump or patch of red skin which is often on the legs of the dog. Sometimes the skin can have an ulcer or open sore. They could also have signs of kidney disease such as a reduced appetite, being unusually quiet or tired.
And the only advice given to pet owners is to wash dogs after a walk if they become muddy and to take them to the vets immediately if they display any symptoms.
The spokesman said: “Because the cause is unknown there are no recommendations for how we can prevent the disease occurring. It has been suggested to bathe any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk; however, at this stage it is not known if this is necessary or of any benefit.
“If you notice any signs – unexplained skin lesions, particularly if your dog is also unwell – then contact a vet as soon as possible. Your vet can carry out some tests that will help to identify the cause.
“It is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected. Most skin lesions will not be caused by this disease and most cases of kidney failure will have another cause.”