Published: 00:01, 23 February 2016
Dog owners in Kent are being urged to be aware of the signs of a flesh-eating disease which has spread across the country.
Alabama Rot is a canine condition caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidneys.
The kidney damage causes tiny blood clots and skin ulcerations to appear on the lower limbs, face, mouth and belly, followed by lethargy and vomiting.
The disease, which originated in America, is often fatal and the cause is not yet known but vets believe there is a link between the illness and walking dogs in woodlands.
Although still rare in the UK, there have been two confirmed cases in Kent.
Vet Glenn Everett, who owns Companion Care in Pets at Home, Chatham, said: “The concern among vets in the UK is that unlike the Alabama Rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in Britain does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog.”
More than 85% of dogs who contract the disease die and it can kill in just three days.
Owners have been told to look out for lesions appearing on their dogs’ skin and paws which can be a sign.
Mr Everett said: “The first sign that is normally seen is a skin sore that isn’t caused by a known injury. Most commonly these sores are found below the elbow or knee and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like.
“If a dog becomes infected the best outcome will come from early and intensive veterinary care, which has resulted in some dogs successfully recovering.
“Any dog owners who think their pet has Alabama Rot symptoms should contact their nearest vet immediately.”
Mr Everett added: “While there is currently no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease, our preventative methods might help put a stop to it in the UK.”
Companion Care in Chatham is part of the Vets4Pets group which has put together a guide to the disease and the signs to look out for.
Visit the #stopalabamarot web page.
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