The advice comes from the Brighton city council’s animal warden and a veterinary surgeon who advises the local authority, after a dog was diagnosed with the Alabama Rot disease in the city at the start of the year.
The disease, also called CRGV (cutaneous renal glomerular vasculopathy) is at its peak between October and March when the weather is cold and wet. It is also associated with dogs being walked in muddy woodland/forest areas with running or standing water.
Sadly, the dog died within three days of contracting the illness.
Animal warden Stephanie Williams said: “As yet, we do not know the cause of the disease, but we do know that it’s associated with the wet and muddy times of the year, so the best advice to owners is to ensure that soon after a woodland/forest walk, all dogs are washed off thoroughly.
“Owners need to examine their dogs closely for the classic first signs of the disease which are normally in the form of a skin lesion that has not been caused by an obvious injury to the dog.”
Research is being carried at various veterinary institutions to find out what causes Alabama Rot, but it is known dogs of any age, sex or breed can be affected.
Stephanie added: “Most commonly the first signs of the disease are seen as skin lesions on the lower legs and paws which appears as a distinct swelling or patch of red inflamed skin progressing to an open ulcer-like sore.
“These lesions can also be seen on the body, face, tongue and mouth albeit less common. Some dogs go on to develop life threatening kidney failure.
“These lesions are caused by damage to the blood vessels of the skin and kidney and can develop very rapidly.”
Although CRGV is a serious illness, the number of dogs affected is very low, with 122 confirmed cases in the whole of the UK from November 2012 to the present.
There is also no test for CRGV, so any veterinary surgeon will not be able to make a quick diagnosis during a consultation.