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Dog walkers in New Forest are on alert for Alabama Rot

Owners speak of tragic loss of dogs to Alabama Rot

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Distraught dog owners Angela Larder and Mark Dunthorn have spoken of their loss after 'best friend in the world', 11-year-old Wiemaraner Summer died of suspected Alabama Rot, after a holiday in the New Forest.

The couple from Glastonbury in Somerset described how the disease which causes nasty skin lesions and kidney failure in dogs killed their beloved pet.

"We were staying on a pet-friendly hotel right on the edge of the forest," said Angela.

A Wiemaraner like Summer (stock photo)

"We came home on the Sunday, and when we got up on Monday, Summer wasn't walking right – she wouldn't put any weight on her back foot."

Summer was taken to the vets at Langport and given antibiotics and sent home.

Scratch on foot

But she was off her food, and by Monday evening the small scratch on the dog's foot had broken down and was oozing blood.

The following morning, she wouldn’t eat, and was taken back to the vets.

Summer was put on antibiotics but later in the week further blood tests showed signs of renal failure.

Summer's brave fight

After a brave fight and support from their vets, sadly, Summer was put to sleep.

Angela said: "The vets were absolutely fantastic. They did everything they could for her, and cared for Summer – and us – so well.

"But there was just nothing more that could be done."

It has now been confirmed that Summer who had suffered no underlying health problems died from Alabama Rot, the most recent of a spate of cases of the disease.

Sad loss of flat-coat retriever Erin

Meanwhile, Tracy Graham was also mourning the loss of a much loved family pet to the killer toxin.

Five-year-old flat coated retriever Erin (pictured) – who was walked at St Catherine’s Hill in Christchurch – was put to sleep after suffering acute kidney failure.

Tracy noticed a sore on Erin’s foot on Sunday, February 2 and took her to the vet. Over a period of days Erin’s condition worsened and after being diagnosed with acute kidney failure at specialist Anderson Moores vets in Hursley near Winchester.

She was put down after being taken to London for dialysis.

Warning to dog owners

Tracy urged other pet owners to watch for the symptoms.

“Look for sores on legs, feet or the face. If there are any, contact the vet straight away – it can mean life or death,” she said.

A statement from the Forestry Commission reads: "New Forest District Council, together with the Forestry Commission, local vets, specialist laboratories, Environment Agency and Animal Health Trust, have been working together to try and find the cause of an illness that led to the death of several dogs in the New Forest.

"Despite extensive testing, the exact underlying cause unfortunately remains unknown.

Look for sores on legs, feet or the face. If there are any, contact the vet straight away - owner Tracy Graham

"The reported cases represent an extremely small proportion of the many hundreds of dogs that are exercised in the New Forest every day and it is likely that this syndrome is extremely rare.

"We will continue to put up notices in the forest if we are made aware of confirmed incidents in particular areas."

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Published: 09:17, 19 February 2014 | Updated: 03:55, 2 March 2014