Dog owners in Cornwall are being urged to take extra precautions when out walking their pets this spring and summer, to help prevent the spread of the deadly disease, Alabama Rot.

The mysterious illness, which first appeared in the late 1980s affecting greyhounds in America, has spread to at least 18 counties in England, with 46 cases confirmed since December 2013 – an increase of 460 per cent compared to the period from November 2012 to November 2013*.

Now Vets4Pets has 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,” said Huw Stacey, head of clinical services at Vets4Pets.

“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.”

Vets4Pets, which has over 300 practices across the UK, is currently 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: “The first sign that is 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.

“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.”

To find out where in the UK cases of Alabama Rot have been recorded follow this link and for further information on Alabama Rot read the 2014 Vets Report