SIGNS have gone up all over the forest warning dog owners to be on the alert for signs of a deadly toxin that has been killing animals.

Specialist vets Anderson Moores, where many of the affected dogs have been taken, is saying the symptoms of the condition, which starts with a sore paw or leg and leads to lesions, lethargy, loss of appetite and ultimately kidney failure, are similar to Alabama Rot. But whereas that disease is caused by an e.coli variant there has been no sign of e.coli in any of the affected dogs’ blood.

Extensive tests were carried out last year, when at least 12 dogs died after being walked in the forest – more than half of those at Latchmore Brook, near Fordingbridge. Blood samples from the dogs, who died very quickly after developing symptoms, were even sent to an international expert in Texas, who could not find a cause, and the Forestry Commission, New Forest District Council and numerous other agencies tried in vain to find a cause in the environment.

It all went quiet after April last year, but two dogs have been affected in recent weeks, with one having to be put to sleep and the other surviving after many days on a drip.

Concerned owners are urged to check regularly for updates.