A Sussex vet has moved to allay rising fears of dog owners over the deadly disease known as Alabama Rot.
Andrew Mitchell, director of the Woodland Veterinary Centre in Grange Road, Midhurst, said it was important to put the issue into perspective.
“The disease does exist, people are worried and one has to be aware,” he said.
“But we have never seen in our practice and, to put it in perspective it is not a common disease.”
He said there had been cases confirmed in the New Forest.
There have been 46 cases confirmed in England since December 2013 in 18 counties.
Since April 7, said Mr Mitchell, three cases had been confirmed in Cheshire, Nottinghamshire and Hampshire.
Two suspected cases in dogs in Berkshire and Hampshire were treated and the dogs survived.
Veterinary specialists Anderson Moores said the disease clinically known as ‘idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) otherwise called ‘Alabama Rot’ had been known about since the late 1980s.
It was initially thought to only affect greyhounds and the dogs reported with the disease in the USA showed symptoms of kidney failure and skin lesions.
The cause of the disease remains unknown.
The concern is that unlike the Alabama Rot which affected the 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 of the disease usually spotted is a skin sore that has not been caused by a known injury.
Most commonly these sores are found below the elbow or knee and appear as a distinct swelling or are open and ulcer-like.
Over the next one to nine days the affected dogs have developed clinical signs of kidney failure which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness.
A spokesman for Anderson Moores said: “It is important to remember only a very small number of dogs have been affected. Most skin lesions will not be caused by this disease and most cases of kidney failure will have another cause. Early recognition and aggressive management is likely to lead to the best outcome.”