A VETERINARY practice has issued a warning to pet owners after putting down a “beautiful” dog which contracted a rare and deadly disease.

Highcliff Veterinary Practice, in Factory Lane, Brantham, diagnosed a dog with Alabama rot at the surgery last week.

It was the first dog in East Anglia to contract the often fatal condition.

The initial symptoms of the disease are skin lesions on the legs, chest and abdomen, followed by problems with kidney functioning.

Caroline Allen, RSPCA’s veterinary director, said: “The cause of Alabama rot - also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) - is unknown and little is known about the mysterious condition.

“It is very difficult to give advice about how to avoid it.

“It is sensible to wash off mud after a muddy walk, especially in woodland, but at this stage it is not known if this is necessary or helpful.

“If dog owners are concerned their pet may be affected by this condition we would urge them to contact their vet immediately for advice.

“Dogs can display skin lesions that often look like open sores or ulcers - particularly on the legs- and signs of acute kidney injury can develop including drinking more, vomiting and lethargy.”

A Facebook post shared by Highcliff Veterinary Practice said: “Unfortunately we have recently diagnosed, at our Brantham surgery, a dog that had developed this awful condition.

“Sadly the condition proved fatal for this beautiful dog, as it does for more than 85 per cent of dogs that are known to have been affected by CRGV and go on to develop kidney failure.

“This case is the first confirmed case in East Anglia, but it is worth noting that the dog had recently holidayed, with her owners, in a part of the country where previous cases have been confirmed.”

The post added: “Although an environmental trigger is suspected as a factor in this disease, it is import to point out that this has not been confirmed.

“Should your dog develop any unexplained skin lesions on the lower legs that are red, sore, circular, ulcerated, oozing or hairless, it would be worth getting them checked out at your vets.”

In total, the country has now seen 188 confirmed cases across 39 counties since 2012, with 52 cases in 2018 and 13 in 2019.

The disease was first identified in a dog in the American state of Alabama in the 1980s.

David Walker from Anderson Moores, who is the UK’s leading specialist on the disease, said as vets are aware, it cannot be passed from dog to dog.

Any concerned owners can find advice at vets4pets.com/stop-alabama-rot.