Dog walkers urged to stay vigilant on fatal dog disease in the New Forest

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Dog walkers should not be complacent, NFDOG has warned

DOG owners are putting their pets’ lives at risk by not taking precautions against the deadly Alabama rot, a local group has warned.

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Complacency may have grown, according to the New Forest Dog Owners Group, because the number of cases has dropped off locally, but it has said owners should still be vigilant.

A local dog training club recently asked new dog owners about the disease and found that around half had never heard of it. However, NFDOG says the danger is real as the disease can strike between now and spring.

While last year there were fewer cases overall, NFDOG says some have been reported by researchers this autumn in Wiltshire, Devon and Berkshire where dogs died as a result.

“Local dog owners should still take care and keep a close eye on their pets,” says Heather Gould, chair of NFDOG. “Many professionals suggest it may help to wash the dogs’ feet and legs, preferably with cold tap water, after walking in open areas.

“If a dog acts in a strange way, licks a lesion or cut on its legs, is lethargic, or appears ill, it’s important to get your vet to assist as soon as possible.”

Over the last decade, hundreds of dogs have died after contracting Alabama rot (CRGV), and the New Forest is a known hotspot. The disease is believed to be transmitted through cuts and abrasions while walking in contaminated open wet areas.

Research is continuing into the cause, and NFDOG has raised tens of thousands of pounds to support the work.

“The incidence of Alabama rot or CRGV has been relatively low in the local area but sporadic cases still occur throughout the UK between October and April”, said Janine Redman, lead vet at the Forest Lodge practice in New Milton and Lymington, and a committee member of NFDOG.

“The cause remains unknown despite research, but the disease is still invariably fatal in many instances.

“As there is no known infectious agent it is difficult to give advice to help prevent its occurrence but it is a sensible precaution to wash your dog down, and especially their legs and feet, after walks in the Forest.”

Dog owners can find out more information at the NFDOG website, www.nfdog.org.uk which will update when news about CRGV emerges.

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