Vets believe a mysterious disease that has killed 13 dogs in the New Forest, Surrey, Cornwall and other areas could be linked to Alabama Rot.
The Forestry Commission has put up signs in the New Forest in Hampshire warning owners to take dogs to the vet if they develop lesions on the legs, paws or face.
Although most of the deaths have occurred in the area, with nine deaths since last January, reports have come in of similar cases from Surrey, Cornwall, Worcestershire and County Durham.
Now vets at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists near Winchester, where the bulk of local cases have been treated, have linked the illness to a disease first seen in the US in the 1980s and more commonly associated with greyhounds.
David Walker, from Anderson Moores, said: “We think effectively this is the same disease as Alabama Rot.
“That is based on further analysis of the kidney tissue, but the frustration is it is very difficult to treat. The proper medical name for it is idiopathic renal and cutaneous and glomerular vasculopathy and the idiopathic implies we do not know what the underlying trigger is.”
That means the cause of the cases is still to be found after the Environment Agency ruled out contaminated water supplies.
Mr Walker added: “The pathology under the microscope is very similar to a disease found in people called haemolytic uraemic syndrome. In a proportion of people with that disease it is triggered by a toxin produced by Escherichia coli and some of investigations have been looking for E coli, but we haven’t found that.
“In the people who don’t have E coli but have this disease sometimes the trigger is not known and that is seemingly what is happening with these dogs.
“We have a much better handle for what is going on with our dogs, but we don’t know what the trigger is. Over the past month we have had a couple of new cases from the New Forest where one dog died and one survived,” he said.