Published: 17:32, 11 February 2020
| Updated: 14:00, 12 February 2020
The first case of a deadly dog disease in Kent since 2015 has been confirmed in the outskirts of Paddock Wood.
Stanley, a dalmatian, was diagnosed with Alabama Rot, a rare condition which causes damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidneys.
The six-year-old pooch was put to sleep and now his owner, Becky Meager, is urging people to wash their dogs’ paws thoroughly.
She said she had only walked him in her garden and in a field on their private land.
The 31-year-old said: "Stanley didn’t even like getting muddy if only I had known the signs. We thought he had an upset tummy. This awful disease took over Stanley’s body so quickly.
"Within three days we took him to the vets and straight away they realised something more was going on and they did some blood tests and it came back with that result and he was put to sleep.
"My eldest is very upset, as we all are as a family.
"He was still very young and very loving and into everything."
Pet healthcare experts Vets4Pets said it is important other owners in the area check dogs for lesions on the lower limbs, face, mouth and belly, and swelling of the paws. Other symptoms include lethargy and vomiting.
The disease, which originated in America, is often fatal and the cause is not known, but vets believe there is a link between the illness and walking in woodlands.
There is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease.
Although still rare in the UK, there have been 12 confirmed cases so far this year, including in County Durham, Devon and Surrey.
Since 2012, there have been 216 instances across the world.
Stanley’s case was identified on Tuesday by Anderson Moores - a veterinary specialist referral centre.
David Walker, from the organisation, said: ""We are sad to announce more cases from this year, as we are now in the time of year when cases are most common.
"It is understandably very worrying for dog owners; however, this disease is still very rare, so we’re advising dog owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions."
Dr Huw Stacey, a vet at Vets4Pets, said: “While it is understandable that dog owners will be worried by Alabama Rot, it is still a very rare disease and we’d encourage owners to continue exercising their pet.
“If a dog becomes affected, the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care at a specialist facility.”
He said treatment is only successful in around 20% of cases.
Another owner was concerned their pet had contracted the disease after visiting the White Horse Country Park in Detling in March, 2018, but this was never confirmed.
Kent County Council has been approached for comment.
Any concerned dog owners should click here for advice and a map of confirmed cases.
More by this authorLydia Catling