ANOTHER dog has died after coming into contact with what is suspected to be the mystery toxin that claimed at least 12 pets last year.
Two cases have been presented to specialist vets in the past three weeks. One had to be put down after becoming ill “incredibly quickly”, but one thankfully survived after a week in hospital.
Now vets and New Forest District Council are warning owners to be vigilant for signs of the toxin, which caused rapid kidney failure in dogs after they were walked in the forest around this time last year.
Concerned owners are now wondering if it could be a seasonal toxin, brought about by heavy rain.
Last year the toxin, which still has not been identified despite extensive testing, killed at least a dozen dogs, who developed wounds on their legs with no obvious puncture marks, up to a week after being walked in the forest – six around Latchmore Brook, one at Linwood, one at Moors Valley and a handful in the wider forest including Burley, Verely Hill and Sway.
The latest cases, which have still to be confirmed, were at Sway and Wilverley.
Now the district council has issued the following advice to dog owners: “If you notice a wound, lesion or blister on your dog’s leg or face up to seven days after walking in the New Forest area or elsewhere, you should seek veterinary attention.
“This may be hard to spot but you may notice your dog licking itself more than usual.
“Additionally, if your dog becomes quiet, starts vomiting or stops eating then please seek advice from your local vet.”
The spokesman added: “The number of cases is a small proportion of the dogs walked in the New Forest every day, and this is not isolated to the New Forest – similar cases were identified in other parts of the country.
“The forest is open for business as usual.”
Anderson Moores vets in Winchester have been dealing with the cases.
Vet David Walker said: “I am awaiting pathology results from the dog that didn’t make it and should have these by the beginning of next week.
“This will allow us to better determine if we are dealing with the same problem as last year.”
Mr Walker added: “Some of the first cases were presented this time last year and it’s incredibly concerning that it might be starting again.
“A huge amount of testing was done in 2013 but failed to provide a conclusive answer.
“Our message to pet owners is to be vigilant and consult a vet immediately if their dog develops skin lesions.”