PET owners have been warned to keep their dogs out of stagnant water after a mystery disease has killed 16 dogs in the last year.

Pip Singleton, the city's dog warden, recommended owners did not allow their pets to swim in flooded areas or stagnant, muddy waters.

She also urged people to follow vets' advice to bathe their dog as soon as possible if they had been swimming and to take them straight to a practice if they begin showing symptoms of the disease.

Though the disease had predominately hit the New Forest where nine dogs have died, Worcestershire has also been affected along with Cornwall, Surrey and County Durham.

The symptoms suffered by the dogs are lesions on the lower legs followed by kidney failure between two and seven days later.

Vets have said the deaths have similarities to a disease called Alabama rot which was first reported in the United States in the 1980s.

The cause of toxins from the E. coli bacteria but this had not yet been traced in the UK.

Miss Singleton said: "Vets are recommending if you have any concerns with you dog's behaviour or appearance then take it straight to the vets to be checked out.

"If your dog is itching and scratching more than usual or has these strange wounds then take them straight to the vets.

"However, if you're worried you have walked in an area that might be susceptible to this disease then they recommend you take your dog straight home and wash them straight away with a mild shampoo."

She advised owners not to let their dogs swim in the water left behind after the river Severn flooded.

"There are a lot of flooded areas at the moment but you don't know what is in the flooded water if you're letting your dog swim or run around there for example there could be sewage or drainage chemicals,."

Posters have gone up around the New Forest informing owners about the spate of deaths.

The sign said: "Between December 2012 and April 2013, a spate of dog deaths in the New Forest prompted an investigation into the mystery dog illness.

"A further six cases were also confirmed outside of the New Forest around the UK. Despite extensive testing, the exact underlying cause remains unknown.

"Unfortunately, a further two cases have been confirmed in January 2014, one dog having been walked in this area.

"Dog owners are advised to look out for wounds or lesions on the limbs or face of their dog which will not heal. Affected dogs then go on to develop signs of severe depression, loss of appetite and vomiting, quickly accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys.

"The reported cases represent an extremely small proportion of the many hundreds of dogs that are exercised in the New Forest every day and it is likely that this syndrome is extremely rare."