Dog owners have been warned after claims a case of deadly Alabama Rot was diagnosed in Christchurch.

Support group Dog Friendly Dorset has issued an alert for the St Catherine’s Hill area.

Posters put up in the area warn: “A case of Alabama Rot has been diagnosed. Please be vigilant for symptoms in any animal you care for and contact your vet if concerned.”

The posters said symptoms to look out for include skin lacerations, ulcers and sores.

Affected dogs may be lethargic with a loss of appetite and possible vomiting.

Alabama rot is a disease that damages blood vessels in the skin and kidneys. It causes blood to clot in the vessels which damages the lining and the tissues of the kidneys.

This causes ulcers on a dog’s skin, but can also cause fatal kidney failure.

The support group urges people to keep to dry paths and to try to keep dogs out of muddy or wet areas.

Owners are also urged to wash mud off of their dogs after walks and to check for wounds.

The warning comes after a “probable” case of the disease was discovered in the New Forest last week.

The New Forest Dog Owners Group spoke out after illness in a dog who had been walked in the Wilverley enclosure.

Numerous studies have been carried out into Alabama Rot in recent years.

Experts have compiled lists of affected areas and do their best to warn dog owners.

David Walker is a director and medicine specialist at Anderson Moores veterinary practice.

He said: “This is understandably a worrying disease for dog owners; however, it is still very rare and we’re advising dog owners to remain calm but vigilant, and to seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions.

“Most dogs initially present with an unexplained skin lesion/sore which is often below the elbow or knee and may involve the paw.

“This may appear as a patch of red skin with or without a defect in the skin (ulcer). Some dogs will go on to develop kidney failure after the skin lesion and signs may be things like vomiting, tiredness and no appetite.”

And he added: “If anybody is concerned, they should contact their vet.”