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Dog owners have been warned about an outbreak of a flesh-eating disease called Alabama Rot.
Any type of dog can be affected and at any age, with the disease thriving in cold, wet and wintry weather when the ground is sodden.
According to the Metro, five dogs have died after contracting the disease in the UK.
Veterinary practice, Anderson Moores, confirmed that two dogs died near Horsham in West Sussex, as well as others in both Malmesbury, Wiltshire and Hungerford, Berkshire.
David Walker, the UK's leading expert on Alabama Rot warned: "We are now in the time of year when cases are most common.
"Further confirmed cases mean it is understandably very worrying for dog owners, however, this disease is still very rare, so we're advising owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions."
Alabama Rot is also known as Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy - it's caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. It causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes ulceration; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure).
The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing and unfortunately there is very little advice on how to prevent your pet from contracting the disease.
The Anderson Moores website suggests that you may want to bath any area of your dog that becomes wet or muddy on a walk - but it's known actually known whether that's going to be beneficial.
You will know your dog has Alabama Rot if it is experiencing redness, sores or swelling of the skin - particularly on the paws or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth.
Although Alabama Rot can be very serious, the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains low with Anderson Moores confirming 122 cases across the UK between November 2012 and January 2018.
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