Vets are warning dog owners to be on their guard against a new flesh-eating disease that can cause liver failure and death if not treated.
Although there have not been any cases of Alabama Rot recorded in Scotland so far, infections have quadrupled in the UK in the last two years.
According to Bearsden’s Vet4Pets vet John Sheppard, the disease was first identified in greyhounds in the US, but in recent years has been found in 16 different counties in England, including Kent, Dorset and even as far north as Greater Manchester.
Mr Sheppard said: “A couple of people have been in touch with us about it so we thought it would be useful to share the following information for concerned dog owners.”
So far 46 cases have been confirmed in the last 18 months in the UK but vets are still baffled about the illness.
Mr Sheppard said: “Currently it is not known what causes the condition. Numerous tests have been carried out on affected animals which look for bacteria/viruses but nothing has been identified as a definite cause.
“We are not even sure how dogs catch it, but it does appear to occur in certain areas of the country such as the New Forest area.”
Evidence suggests it is not passed directly from dog to dog, but owners are being advised to watch out for the symptoms if they have travelled south with their animals.
These are a reddening of the skin, lesions that have the appearance of wounds or ulcers on the lower parts of the legs or on the face.
Mr Sheppard added: “Within two to seven days the animal can go on to develop kidney failure. Kidney disease presents with other symptoms which may include reduced appetite, sickness and lack of energy.”
Vets4Pets practice emphasised that only a very small number of dogs have been affected and moved to reassure owners that most skin lesions and most cases of kidney disease will have another cause.
Mr Sheppard said: “The message for dog owners in our area is that there is no need for panic. We have seen no cases of the disease in our area. However do be vigilant and be familiar with the symptoms. If you are planning a holiday with your dog to an area where there have been cases, it may be worth contacting your vet before going. And if you think you see the symptoms or are concerned about your dog’s health, contact your vet.