DOG owners across Oxfordshire are being warned to watch out for signs of potentially fatal Alabama rot disease as the peak season for the condition is now under way.

The Kennel Club, which runs Crufts dog show, is warning owners to be vigilant about the condition, also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy.

It was first detected in the UK in 2012 and is most prevalent between November and May.

Cases have been reported earlier this year near Burford and in Summertown in Oxford, and dog owners are being advised to ‘lower risk’ by keeping their pets away from ‘very muddy areas’.

The disease damages 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, which is often fatal.

Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko said: “Although the disease is very rare, affecting an extremely low percentage of dogs, the condition is very serious and potentially life-threatening.

“It is vital that owners recognise the warning signs, especially as time plays a significant part in successfully treating the disease. We are asking owners to look out for signs of Alabama rot during the winter months and to remember to take action right away.”

The Oxford Times:

There has been speculation that the condition is related to mud or water, due to the higher prevalence in winter and spring, and relatively low case numbers seen in the summer.

Ms Kisko added: “To lower any risk of your dog contracting Alabama rot, it’s also advisable to keep your dog away from very muddy areas, wash wet or muddy dogs straight after a walk and regularly check your dog’s body for anything that’s different. “

The club secretary, who keeps a pack of 18 Siberian Huskies, said 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.

She added: “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 become tired, disinterested in food, or present other signs of illness like vomiting or diarrhoea.”

Last month several puppies in West Oxfordshire died after suffering a mystery virus not linked to Alabama rot.