The owners of hunting dogs throughout Oxfordshire have been warned to pay attention to signs of a potentially deadly disease of Alabama rot while the high season for the condition is underway.
The Kennel Club, which runs the Crufts dog show, advises owners to be vigilant about the condition, also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy.
It was first reported in the United Kingdom in 2012 and is more common between November and May.
Cases have been reported at the start of this year near Burford and in Summertown, Oxford, and dog owners are advised to "reduce the risk" by keeping their pets away from "very muddy areas".
The disease damages the lining of the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys, causing ulceration of the skin and damage to the kidneys.
The condition can affect any breed or age of the dog and a percentage can go to develop acute renal failure, which is often fatal.
The Kennel Club secretary, Caroline Kisko, said: "Although the disease is very rare and affects an extremely low percentage of dogs, the condition is very serious and potentially life-threatening.
"It is essential that owners recognize the warning signs, especially if time plays a significant role in the effective treatment of the disease.We ask owners to look for signs of Abrabama during the winter months and to remember to act immediately".
It has been hypothesized that the condition is related to mud or water, due to the higher prevalence in winter and spring, and to relatively low numbers of cases observed in summer.
Mrs. Kisko added: "To reduce the risk of the dog contracting Alabama, it is advisable to keep the dog away from very muddy areas, wash wet or muddy dogs immediately after a walk and regularly check the dog's body for any what's different. "
The club secretary, who holds a packet of 18 Siberian huskies, said any dog with unexplained cutaneous lesions or those who generally look like sores, ulcers or red, swollen and bruised areas, commonly with an infected appearance, should be taken to the vet as as soon as possible.
He added: "These skin changes are usually found on the legs or legs, but they can also appear on the head, face or lower body.
"Dogs who have contracted the disease may become tired, disinterested in food or present other signs of illness such as vomiting or diarrhea."
Last month, several puppies in West Oxfordshire died after suffering from a mysterious virus not related to Alabama rotting.