VET’S VIEW: Don’t always fear the worst, but don’t hesitate to ask your vet for advice...

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ROBBIE came in a sorry figure, holding up his left front leg, and his owner eyed me anxiously as I examined the red area in between his claws.

“I read about this new killer disease,” interrupted his owner. “And it sounded just like what Robbie’s got.”

I could understand his concern. Alabama Rot, so called for its similarity to a condition seen in the United States, has made the national news recently, after a few dogs were fatally affected in the New Forest area last year.

The exact cause is still unknown, but dogs have been described as having a skin erosion or ulcer on the lower limb, and going on to develop signs of acute kidney injury some days later.

Cases have also been reported in Dorset, Surrey and further afield.

The British Small Animal Veterinary Association has been quick to reassure its members that the number of dogs affected has been very small, and vet David Walker, who investigated the original cases, has pointed out that most of the skin lesions and cases of kidney failure that vets see will be nothing to do with this new disease, despite the impression that is given by some reports.

We gave Robbie some antibiotics for the infection and I asked his owner to come back in two days, to check he was getting better and wasn’t showing any signs of kidney problems, such as increased thirst, reduced appetite or vomiting.

If there were any concerns, we could perform some blood tests to check his kidney function.

In the event, they weren’t necessary as Robbie came bounding in, evidently much recovered. Scratches and abrasions are common in dogs, as they charge about the countryside, and as the British Small Animal Veterinary Association says, most are not serious.

But, if you see anything out of the ordinary, don’t hesitate to ask your vet for advice.