Unexplained Dog Deaths – Update

The following is an update from Anderson Moores, Veterinary Specialists.

Over the past month a further two dogs from the New Forest have presented to Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists with skin wounds/lesions and acute kidney failure. These dogs were walked in the Tiptoe area and Wilverley inclosure. One of the dogs survived but unfortunately one was euthanased as a result of the disease. These are the first new cases we are aware of since late March 2013. Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists saw six dogs between December 2012 and March 2013 with similar presenting signs. Five of these had been walked in the New Forest and the other dog was from Upton in Dorset. We are aware of at least eight other cases (two from the New Forest and six from around the UK). Three of the dogs seen at Anderson Moores have survived but unfortunately the remaining dogs were euthanased as a result of the severity of their disease.

Testing for the more common causes of acute kidney failure has been normal in all affected dogs. It is the concurrent presence of skin lesions and in some patients thrombocytopaenia (a low blood platelet count) and haemolytic anaemia (a low red blood cell count) that makes the cases so unusual. Histopathological evaluation (microscopic examination) of kidney tissue from post mortem samples from affected dogs by specialist pathologists in the UK and the US has revealed changes similar to those identified in greyhounds diagnosed with idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (abnormalities of the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys of unknown cause). These changes are similar to those seen in human patients with a condition called haemolytic uraemic syndrome (HUS). In some people with HUS an E.coli toxin (shiga toxin) has been identified as the underlying cause; however, the underlying trigger for HUS is not always found. We have examined both the faeces and kidney tissue of affected dogs for E.coli toxin and testing has been negative. Further testing on kidney tissue to try and identify the underlying cause is ongoing. We are very grateful to those owners who consented to post mortem examination of their much loved pets in order to try and investigate the underlying cause of this problem.

The skin wounds develop prior to more generalised clinical signs (lethargy, reduced appetite, vomiting) and the best advice we can give to members of the general public is to seek Veterinary attention early if you notice a wound/lesion on your pet. If you are a pet owner looking for more information, please contact your local veterinary practice in the first instance.

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