A new outbreak of a dreaded skin disease which kills dogs by eating their flesh has been reported in the UK.Two new cases of the lethal Alabama Rot disease have been reported in the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and Westbury in Wiltshire.
Hundreds of canines have been killed by the vicious skin condition since it spread to the UK from the US seven years ago.
One of the key symptoms is lesions which can affect the lower limbs, mouth and tongue.
With an estimated nine million dogs in the UK, vets are urging pet owners to watch out for signs of the disease.
The latest cases were confirmed by Anderson Moores, a specialist veterinary referral centre in Winchester. David Walker, from Anderson Moores, said: ‘These further confirmed cases mean it is understandably very worrying for dog owners.
In a statement, Anderson Moores, who are based in Winchester, Hampshire, close to one of the major hotspots for cases, said: “We are in the time of year when historically we have identified more cases of CRGV and although this disease remains rare, we continue to advise owners to be vigilant and to seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions and sores.
‘However, this disease is still very rare, so we’re advising owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.’The highest number of confirmed cases have been in Greater Manchester, Dorset, Devon and Hampshire’s New Forest.
Vets4Pets said that treatment is only successful in 20% of cases.Dr Ian Hopkins, a vet, said: ‘The best advice is to continue enjoying exercising your dog but always be mindful of certain symptoms which may indicate a nasty disease such as Alabama Rot.
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‘These can include lethargy, vomiting and maybe your dog is drinking more than usual.
‘With Alabama Rot, the dog will often have skin lesions or ulcers – in the mouth, on the tongue and lower limbs including feet are common place.
‘However, the lesions are not always present and in the case we have just dealt with, there were no sign of any lesions at all.
‘It affects all types of dogs of all ages which therefore makes it a matter of concern for all dog owners.’
Pet owners have also been warned about an invasion of slugs and snails carrying lungworm.Hundreds of dogs have caught the bug in Somerset along with a small number in Cornwall.
The symptoms can include weight loss, difficulty breathing and a reduced appetite.
Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: ‘If a dog accidentally eats an infected slug or snail, or comes into contact with their slime, they can contract the disease. ‘And the risk of dogs coming into contact with these infected molluscs is high, as it is believed that the average British garden contains over 20,000 slugs and snails, and the larvae which are released in the slime can survive for at least 15 days.’
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