A Berkshire dog owner was left "heartbroken" after her three-year-old Labrador died after contracting a deadly disease known as Alabama Rot.

The owners are now using their story to highlight the symptoms and dangers of the disease.

Simone Meloni, from Lambourn, has told how he and his partner Sara were left devastated when their Labrador Grace succumbed to the disease, which has a mortality rate of 90 per cent.

Prior to contracting the disease, Grace had been described as a "fit" and "powerful" dog by her owners.

Simone explained: “Grace was like a daughter to us, so it isn’t easy to accept she’s gone and gone so suddenly and tragically."

“Everything happened so fast," Simone added.

“One morning she was a little bit lame and we discovered a lump on her chest which was very sore.

“We took her straight to our local vets and they gave her pain relief and antibiotics, but the lump grew bigger and she started to decline very quickly.

“She was eating less but vomiting a lot and we were very worried.

“On our third visit to the vets they said it could be a case of Alabama Rot, a very rare but very serious disease.

“We were shocked but wanted to try everything to try to save her, so they referred us to Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester but sadly Grace didn’t pull through.

“We keep asking ourselves ‘Why Grace?’. We live on a cottage on a farm working with racehorses and there must be 20 other dogs running and playing in the same fields.

“All the other dogs are ok and only Grace was affected, which is so hard to understand.

“We don’t want any other dog lovers to be left feeling that same sense of loss and pain. That’s why we’re telling our story, in the hope owners and vets across the country are alerted to the dangers.”

Slough Observer: Toe lesion cause by Alabama RotToe lesion cause by Alabama Rot (Image: Distraught Berkshire dog owner's warning over deadly disease)

Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), also known as Alabama Rot, which originally appeared in the late 1980s, attacks the kidneys and was first detected in the UK in 2012, with 290 confirmed cases to date.

Linnaeus-owned Anderson Moores has been leading research into the devastating disease since 2012 with internal medic Josh Walker at the forefront of the work.

Josh, a board-certified diplomate in small animal internal medicine, said: “We’re incredibly sorry to have to confirm Grace was a victim of CRGV.

“We have been at the forefront of research into CRGV for almost a decade and have witnessed first-hand the often-devastating effects of the disease.

”Treatment largely revolves around management of the sudden onset of kidney failure and, sadly, with our current understanding of the disease, is only successful in around 10 per cent of cases.”

Mr Walker added that he hoped a dedicated CRGV website launched by Anderson Moores would be a useful tool in raising awareness of the disease among dog owners.

The website includes a nationwide map of Alabama Rot cases which can be viewed here.