What is Alabama Rot and how can it affect your dog?

Alabama Rot in the UK

Alabama Rot is a potentially deadly disease which was first detected in the UK in 2012 with the number of cases rising each year.

It’s reported in the media* that there were 19 cases in 2016, 40 cases in 2017 and 29 cases confirmed between January and end of March 2018 already.

We outline the potential signs of Alabama Rot in your pet so that you can get them to the vets as soon as possible.

What is Alabama Rot?

Given the name, you probably won’t be surprised to know that “Alabama Rot” has existed in the US for years. It first appeared on greyhounds but can affect all breeds of dogs, regardless of age.

Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney.  In skin, it causes ulceration, but in kidneys it can lead to severe organ dysfunction. CRGV bears a number of similarities to Alabama Rot.

Where is Alabama Rot in the UK?

There have been cases reported across the UK (only one in Scotland to date) but there are certain “hot spots”, with concentrations found in Dorset, New Forest and surrounding areas and also Greater Manchester and Wales.**

Check local papers and news for up-to-date outbreak areas and search online for maps of recorded cases.

How do dogs pick up Alabama Rot and how can you protect them?

Experts are not sure what causes Alabama Rot and why certain dogs have been affected so there is currently no definitive advice on how to protect your dog against the possibility of developing it.

It’s widely believed that dogs pick up the disease on their paws and legs from muddy or woodland walks – therefore washing your dog thoroughly after walks may be potentially beneficial.

The Stop Alabama Rot campaign group suggest that more cases appear to be diagnosed between November and May – suggesting there may also be a degree of Winter and Spring seasonality.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

Dogs who contract Alabama Rot will usually have unexplained redness or sores/swelling and open wounds on their skin and paws. Of course many animals may suffer from skin problems, but it’s difficult to know whether it’s been caused by CRGV – so if in doubt – do see your vet as soon as possible.

These lesions and sores can potentially occur anywhere on the body but are commonly found on the lower legs, elbow or knee.

They tend to be circular patches, or lesions/ulcers which break out, becoming  hairless as the fur sheds.

After lesions, affected dogs may also

  • lose their appetite
  • appear lethargic and listless
  • start vomiting
  • drink a lot

What is the prognosis for Alabama Rot?

Once lesions start showing, kidney failure can happen soon after sometimes within days or other times, almost simultaneously. If your dog’s kidneys have become affected by the disease, they are unlikely to survive.

If the disease has not yet reached the kidneys, they could be potentially treated if the condition is caught very early but unfortunately it is a very serious disease.

It’s crucial to see your vet as soon as possible if your dog suddenly develops suspicious lesions and sores.

What to do if you suspect Alabama Rot

Get to your vet as soon as possible if you think that your dog may have developed Alabama Rot, especially if you are in a part of the country in which dogs have been diagnosed with the condition.

Don’t forget, dogs can be affected in any part of the UK and it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible, regardless of where you live or what breed your dog is.

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* https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/alabama-rot-dog-disease-what-is-uk-britain-how-to-protect-pet-vet-a8273236.html
** http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-43230927
  • Lloyd Gray

    Could an antibacterial wash help for dogs paws after walking, something like Hibiscrub perhaps?