A DOG in north Dorset has died from Alabama Rot following a number of suspected cases in the area.

Shaftesbury-based Longmead Vets announced the sad news in a post on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

They said a post-mortem had confirmed a three-year-old black Labrador had died from the rare disease, also known as idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV).

It brings the number of confirmed fatalities since 2012 to 11.

Although rare, only 15-20 per cent of dogs survive the deadly disease.

Longmead Vets said the Labrador was walked mainly in the fields around Shaftesbury and Motcombe, “but also the downlands and around the airfield”, before showing symptoms.

“A bright, energetic, three-year-old black Labrador presented with lameness and a sore pad, he was bright and eating well.

“Despite treatment his leg began to swell and he quickly became systemically unwell,” they said.

The practice contacted Hampshire vets Anderson Moores, the UK's leading authority on Alabama Rot, for help, “but despite all efforts were unable to save him”.

Another vet in north Dorset said four dogs had died recently following suspected cases of Alabama Rot, however these had not been confirmed through post-mortem.

Dr David Scott, of Stalbridge & Marnhull Veterinary Surgery, said each dog showed “suspicious” clinical signs of the disease, namely kidney damage.

Alabama Rot, which is more prevalent in the winter months, causes damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. An early sign of the disease is unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin - particularly on the paws or legs - but sores can also be found on the body, face, tongue or mouth.

The disease can go on to cause fatal kidney failure and signs include vomiting, reduced hunger and lethargy.

The cause of the disease is currently unknown, however research is being funded by the New Forest Dog Owners Group and the charity Stop Alabama Rot.

As previously reported, specialist fish vet Dr Fiona Macdonald is investigating a possible link between Alabama Rot and a bacteria found in fish that causes similar symptoms.

Her theory is that an organism called Aeromonas hydrophila infects a dog’s skin, and toxins produced by the bacteria travel to the kidneys, causing failure.

The organism can be found in fresh or brackish water, common bodies of water near popular dog paths.

Longmead Vets has told pet owners that “most of the time a skin problem will not be caused by CRGV”, however the lesions caused by the disease can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings, or bites.

They added: “Please try to keep perspective at the moment and don't all take to the roads with your dogs. Statistically across the UK vets see many more serious injuries and fatalities caused by road traffic incidents every year than there have been confirmed cases of Alabama Rot in the last five years.”