THREE dogs are showing unconfirmed signs of a potentially rare deadly disease called Alabama Rot after walking in West Woods near Marlborough.

It is understood the three cocker spaniels, who are known to each other, came down with sores on their legs, which is the first sign of the disease, last week following a walk in West Woods and it is thought the disease is picked up on paws and legs on muddy walks.

When the dogs' owner washed their legs and the lesions did not disappear she grew concerned and took them to a vets’ practice in Marlborough.

They are now being monitored for Alabama Rot, which can cause fatal lung failure in as little as three days after contracting the sores.

Two are being treated at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester, who have been researching the disease since it first came to the UK in 2012, and the third has been taken to the Royal Veterinary College in London.

Head of internal medicines at Anderson Moores, David Walker said: “Yes, we are treating dogs, but it is important to stress it is suspected cases. We had two come in on Wednesday and one on Thursday and one of them was moved to another centre on Friday.

“Although this is a serious disease, it is not invariably fatal and we do not want people to panic.

“The difficulty is we do not know the cause of previous cases. People have asked ‘will washing my dog after the walk help? I cannot say yes or no but it seems like a sensible thing to do.

“Be vigilant and if people are worried they should go to their local vets.”

Mr Walker said there has been 60 confirmed cases in the UK.

There was also a case last year in the New Forest and the Forestry Commission, who own West Woods, say they are investigating but do not want people to panic as it is not confirmed the suspected cases were as a result of walking in the woods.

It is also believed there has been instances of dogs passing the disease to other dogs.

Mr Walker added: “We are the place people are reporting cases to and confirmed in the UK we have had 60 cases, sadly death does happen in the most severe cases. However that is still a relatively low amount of dogs.

“The signs to look out for are often little lesions below the knee or elbow and circular or like an ulcer. The hair will fall off which will get the dog’s attention and they may start licking it. However, the difficulty is not all the lesions will look the same.

“If they start to get kidney failure, the signs will be tiredness and vomiting.”

The disease first came to light in the USA in the 1980s and was most common is greyhounds. But Mr Walker said they have had a wide range of dogs of all shapes and sizes who have had the disease.