Dog owners across South Yorkshire are being warned about a deadly disease called Alabama Rot.
The mysterious illness, which first appeared in the late 1980s affecting greyhounds in America, has been spreading across England.
Dog owners should take extra precautions when out walking their animals and look out for the warning signs, according to experts.
“The cause of Alabama Rot, clinically known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy, is still unknown and there is no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease,” said Huw Stacey, head of clinical services at Vets4Pets.
“This is why we have produced an interactive guide - http://www.vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot/ - 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. The first sign normally seen is a skin sore that isn’t caused by a known injury. Most commonly these sores are found below the elbow or knee and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like."
Vets4Pets is supporting the research work carried out by Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists and the Animal Health Trust to help understand the disease, how it can be treated and prevented.
Huw added: “If a dog becomes infected the best outcome will come from early and intensive veterinary care, which has resulted in some dogs successfully recovering.
“Any dog owners who think their pet has Alabama Rot symptoms should contact their nearest vet immediately.
“This will help build knowledge about the spread of the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.”