DEVASTATED dog owners whose three-year-old spaniel died from a suspected case of Alabama rot are urging others to be aware of the “killer” disease.

Sally and Alan Gibb, from Hindon, had to make the difficult decision to have their pet Peggy put down on December 9.

Alabama rot (cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy) has been seen in the UK since 2012 and experts say the majority of cases usually occur between November and March. But the cause is still unknown.

Mrs Gibb said: “It is a killer disease. It is totally unknown and there is almost little you can do to prevent it.”

She is urging owners of dogs that are fussing over any lesions on their feet to get them checked by a vet, as well as ensuring they have pet insurance.

The Gibbs, who have had Peggy since she was a puppy, became aware of a problem after the spaniel kept chewing her paw. She developed pustule-like blisters on her tummy and was taken to Manor Farm Vets in Codford where she was diagnosed with a suspected case of the disease on December 1. She was then referred to specialists Anderson Moores.

Peggy was later transferred to the Royal Veterinary Hospital in Potters Bar where she underwent specialist plasma exchange therapy. But her condition failed to improve.

Mrs Gibb says they are “shocked and devastated” by the loss of Peggy who was a “very fit and active” dog. She added: “We don’t even know where she got it. We have walked her in the same places all her life. It is a death lottery.”

Vet Sarah Hames, who treated Peggy at Manor Farm Vets, says the disease causes ulcerative lesions to appear, which are often seen on the legs and feet and in the mouth or on the nose, and can lead to kidney failure.

She said: “Our advice is to have any suspicious lesions on your dogs feet, face or mouth checked by your vet. Do not be tempted to give your dog any medication, especially pain relief, at home as this could worsen the signs. Your vet can do a blood test if they are concerned about the lesions. Early diagnosis and treatment is important.

“Washing your dogs feet to clean off any mud and debris after walks may help to prevent the development of this disease. There is no evidence that humans or other animals can be affected by Alabama rot, and there aren’t any cases of it being spread from dog to dog.”

David Walker, the UK’s leading expert on the condition, from Anderson Moores, said: “Although we are working hard to find out the cause of Alabama Rot, it is currently still unknown.”

He said that it is important dog owners “remain calm, but vigilant, particularly during the next few months” and that there is currently no known way to prevent a dog from contracting the disease.