Dog owners are being warned to be vigilant as the peak season for the Alabama rot disease sets in.
The Kennel Club highlighted that the disease, also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy, or CRGV, is most prevalent between November and May.
The first case of the disease occured in the UK in 2012 and appears to affect only dogs.
The diease can be fatal, damaging the lining of blood vessels in the skin and kidney, resulting in ulceration of the skin and kidney damage. The condition can affect any breed or age of dog and a proportion can go on to develop severe, acute kidney failure.
Very rare, but very serious
The Kennel club have pleaded with dog owners to keep an eye out for symptoms.
Kennel Club Secretary, Caroline Kisko, outlined red flags dog owners should be wary of: “we are asking owners to look out for any signs of Alabama rot during the winter months and to remember to take action right away.
“Any dogs with unexplained or concerning skin lesions which typically look like sores, ulcers, or red, swollen, bruised areas, commonly with an infected appearance should be taken to their vet as soon as possible.
“These skin changes are usually found on their paws or lower legs, but may also appear on their head, face or lower body. Dogs who have contracted the disease may also become tired, disinterested in food, or present other signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhoea.
“Although these signs may not necessarily mean your dog has Alabama rot, acting quickly and speaking to a vet to determine what is wrong is the best course of action to protect your pet’s health.”
Disease may occur in muddy areas
The cause of the disease remains unknown, with no evidence suggesting that Alabama rot is caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, toxins, or radiation.
There is speculation that it is related to mud or water, due to the higher prevalence in winter and spring, and relatively low case numbers seen in the summer.
Kisko recommends taking preventative measures during winter such as keeping your dog away from very muddy areas, washing wet or muddy dogs after a walk and regularly checking your dog’s body for anything unusual.
Dog owners who spot symptoms should seek veterinary advice immediately.