Deadly Alabama rot means dog owners should be careful about walking their pet in the woods, experts have warned.
Dog walkers have been urged to hose their canine friends down after walking on muddy ground.
Campaigners claim this is a "common factor" in dozens of deaths this year, and have issued lifesaving advice.
An estimated 200 dogs have died as a result of the painful condition since 2012, with round 50 of these happening this year.
Although cases have been reported across the UK, London, Manchester and the New Forest are particularly badly affected.
Vet Fiona Macdonald told The Sunday Times : "Walking dogs on muddy ground seems to be the common factor.
"Owners who have been in such areas should hose their dogs down with cold water after every such walk.
"They won’t like it, but it might save them."
In November Mirror Online reported that a fresh outbreak of Alabama Rot had caused anxiety among animal lovers.
Vet and joint practice director Paul Riley said: "It appears to be a seasonal condition, most cases occurring between November and May and may be associated with wet and muddy heathland type habitats.
What is Alabama Rot?
- The devastating condition, officially called CRGV, can lead to a dog’s flesh rotting away.
- It’s thought it originated in America among Greyhounds in the 1980s, but UK cases have only been reported in the last six years.
- The disease results in kidney failure, loss of appetite, tiredness and vomiting – but it can only be diagnosed post-mortem.
- Symptoms include skin lesions, sore skin and kidney failure.
Find out more about the dangers of Alabama Rot – and how to protect your dog.
"The only advice that we can really give, is that it is possibly a good idea to wash your dogs down after walks if they are wet and muddy and to see your vet if you see any new sores appearing on your dog’s skin.
"We can’t stress enough however that over 99% of skin lesions will not be caused by Alabama Rot."
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