THREE dogs have been taken to Swindon vets for the potentially deadly condition known as Alabama rot.

The three cocker spaniels were brought to the Drove Veterinary Hospital in Croft Road with symptoms consistent with cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, otherwise known as Alabama rot.

The rare condition causes skin lesions in dogs, which in some cases can develop into kidney failure and even death.

Lynne Gaskarth, 40, a vet and director at Drove Veterinary Hospital, said: “We have treated three dogs, who all came down with symptoms consistent with Alabama rot after walking in the West Woods area of Marlborough.

“Two of them have developed skin lesions but are doing well, but the other one is very poorly and was referred on Saturday to the Royal Veterinary College in London.

“It’s really very sad. The three dogs were all working cockers, out and about living a proper doggy life.”

Cases of CRGV have been recorded across the UK since late 2012. Despite many confirmed deaths from the condition across the country, the causes are unknown.

David Walker, from Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, dealt with the first recorded UK cases linked to CRGV in the New Forest in late 2012. He said: “We think we’re dealing with the same disease seen in the US in the 1980s.

"This particular disease process presents with skin lesions, with some dogs, but not all, exhibiting renal failure.

Mr Walker, the Head of Internal Medicine at Anderson Moores, said: “In the back end of 2012 we were seeing the same symptoms.

"Over the past few years we’ve confirmed over 60 cases all around the UK, sadly all confirmed through dogs dying.

“The three dogs in Swindon were on a walk together, but none have been 100 percent confirmed.”

Deaths as a result of the condition have been confirmed from Cornwall to North Yorkshire, and even Northern Ireland.

Cases confirmed between November 2014 and May 2015 have been as close as Lambourn, in Berkshire, and Salisbury.

Mr Walker said the condition is UK-wide, but seems be seasonal, occurring mostly between November and May and peaking around January.

He said: “There is a suggestion that there is an environmental factor, we don’t have clear evidence to back that up, but it can’t not help to wash down your dog after a walk.

“This is a very rare disease that affects only a very small proportion of dogs.

"It’s not always fatal and dogs can survive it, but if you are worried at all you should take your dog to a vet who will assess the situation.

“Truly the best advice is to be vigilant, so we can help the dog sooner.”

Alabama rot symptoms include: 

  • Skin lesions – sometimes circular and about the size of a five pence piece, and often with defect in the skin like an ulcer. They are often on the lower leg, below the knee and elbow.
  • Kidney (renal) failure – vomiting, tiredness and not eating. These are very vague symptoms and can represent a number of other conditions.
  • The average time from showing skin lesions to signs of kidney failure is three days but can be anywhere from 10 days to simultaneous presentation.

There is no known cause for the condition, so no vaccine or direct treatment, but catching the condition early can help.

Although there are no direct links to environmental causes, washing the dog’s legs after a walk could help.

Huw Stacey, director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: ​"We have launched an interactive guide to provide dog owners with information on the disease, including confirmed locations and tips on how to reduce the risk of dogs becoming infected - 

"The cause of Alabama rot, clinically known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), is still unknown and there is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease.

"This is why we have produced an interactive guide, which follows on from the feature on Alabama rot in our 2014 Vets Report, that helps dog owners understand where in the UK confirmed cases have occurred, how to spot symptoms and tips on reducing the risk of infection.

"The concern among vets in the UK is that unlike the Alabama rot that affected greyhounds in America, the disease in the UK does not seem to target any specific breed, age, sex or weight of dog.

"Of course cases are currently extremely rare and this information is aimed at preventing a large scale outbreak by stopping the disease spread and ensuring dogs are kept safe while enjoying the great UK outdoors.”