Dog owners are being warned to be extra vigilant, after potential cases of the condition known as Alabama Rot have affected pets in the UK.
The rare but serious flesh-eating bug develops after muddy walks, and with the temperatures dropping to below zero in many parts of the country, cases of the disease are expected to rise.
Alabama Rot was first detected in the UK in 2012. There were 47 confirmed cases in 2020, 19 cases in 2019 and 18 in 2019.
Dog owners in Hampshire, Nottinghamshire and Greater London have all reported suspected cases in the last month.
You can access a map detailing all the confirmed cases since 2012 on the Vet4Pets website.
What are the symptoms?
The flesh-eating condition, scientifically known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), can affect any age or breed of dog, although breeds which have been most affected include:
- English springer spaniels
- Cocker spaniels
- Flat-coated Retrievers
- Hungarian vizslas
- Border collies
The first sign of the disease is often a sore on the skin. This is usually found under a dog’s elbow or knee. The skin can become red and the sore makes it look like an open ulcer.
Other symptoms can include fatigue, bloody diarrhoea, vomiting, loss of appetite and drooling.
After a few days, the dog will start showing signs of kidney failure.
According to Vets4Pets, which is tracking the spread of the disease, only around 30 per cent of dogs survive once diagnosed with the condition.
What do vets advise?
The exact cause of contracting the disease is unknown, although many vets believe that dogs can get infected from mud on their paws and legs.
Vet Fiona MacDonald told The Sunday Times: “Walking dogs on muddy ground seems to be the common factor.
“Owners who have been in such areas should hose their dogs down with cold water after every such walk.
“They won’t like it, but it might save them.”
There is no known cure for Alabama Rot, but the best chance for survival is if the condition is diagnosed early. Vets will first treat skin sores and kidney failure, but could refer your pet to a specialist hospital.