Dog owners have been warned to keep their pets away from our rivers and muddy areas, after a young golden retreiver has sadly become the first local victim of Alabama Rot.
The infection – which almost always ends in the death of the dog – causes irreversible kidney failure, and it shows up through skin sores. It has been spreading throughout the UK, with 150 cases since 2012, but this has been the first confirmed case in the Borders.
The retriever, named Georgie, had been playing in and around local rivers, including the Tweed near Melrose and Gattonside, in days before she became affected.
Clinical director Melanie Broad of Border Vets said: “She developed skin lesions on her legs and was taken to Border Vets, but she deteriorated, and it was not possible to save her.”
The dog’s owner, from Galashiels, gave the go-ahead to the surgery to warn other owners of the dangers.
Melanie added: “As a profession, vets still don’t know the underlying cause of Alabama Rot, but it might be a bacteria contracted from water or muddy ground.
“The first sign is usually a sore on the legs, belly or face which might be bald, swollen, moist and quite red looking.
“This infection causes irreversible kidney failure so almost all dogs will sadly die of it.”
Border Vets is urging dog owners not to panic but to take precautions by not allowing their pet to play in muddy areas and to wash them down after walks.
Melanie added: “Our advice is to try to avoid infection in the first place so we recommend avoiding letting your dog play in muddy areas and if they do get wet or dirty on a walk then wash them when you get home.
“Check them for any scrapes or sores and ask your vet to check out any wounds, especially ones you can’t explain.
“Monitor their eating and drinking and if they become lethargic and off their food then please report this to your vet.
“Hopefully the dry weather will reduce the risk and we won’t see any more cases, but please stay vigilant.”