Alabama Rot

Everything you need to know

With wet & muddy weather upon us, it's important to be mindful that Alabama rot tends to be at its highest levels. Alabama rot is a disease that causes damage to a dog's blood vessels and the kidney. It is a mysterious disease that is hard to identify and sadly, very difficult to treat.

Clinically known as idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (or CRVG for short), it's thought that the disease originated in America among Greyhounds in the 1980's, but has only been reported in the UK within the last 6 years.

How many dogs have been affected in the UK?

Since the disease was first detected in 2012 in the UK the number of cases of Alabama dog rot in dogs has risen. The most serious outbreak was in the New Forest region of Hampshire but there have also been reported cases in several other counties, with the most recent cases reported in Gloucestershire, Monmouthshire, Devon, Dorset, Cheshire, Warwickshire, Greater Manchester and Worcestershire.

So far this year, there have been 23 confirmed cases in the UK following 29 cases in 2018, 40 cases in 2017 and 19 cases in 2016.

Vets4Pets have created a helpful tool to help dog owners find confirmed cases of Alabama rot in their area. Click here to visit the Vets4Pets site.

What causes Alabama rot?

The source of the disease is unknown, some believe it to be caused by toxins produced by bacteria such as E.coli but there is no scientific evidence to back this up. The Environment Agency has ruled out any chemical contamination in water supplies.

What are the symptoms?

The first sign of Alabama Rot is skin sores that are not known to have been caused by a physical injury. The sores can look like lesions, swelling, a patch of red skin, or may be open and ulcer-like. The sores are most commonly found below the knee or elbow or occasionally on the stomach or face. Usually, this will cause localised hair loss and the dog will begin licking the wound. In the worst cases, these lesions will be followed – between two and seven days later – with outward symptoms of kidney failure: reduced appetite, fatigue, and vomiting.

Affected dogs will also develop signs of severe depression, loss of appetite and vomiting, quickly accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys.

The symptoms for Alabama Rot are quite vague, and could be the result of a number of other conditions so it's important to check with a vet if your dog is displaying any symptoms at all.

What should I do if my dog is displaying symptoms?

The best outcomes seem to be achieved by spotting the symptoms early and receiving veterinary care as quickly as possible. Whilst some infected dogs do survive the treatments of skin sores and kidney failure, unfortunately, many do not – it is estimated that treatment is only successful in around 20-30% of cases.

It is important, to note that the overall percentage of dogs affected in the UK is really very small so you can continue to enjoy walks with your four-legged friend - but please do familiarise yourself with the symptoms, follow the precautionary preventative advice and keep checking on confirmed cases in your area for outdoor spaces you may want to avoid walking with your dog.

Click here to find confirmed cases in your local area.

Is there anything I can do to prevent Alabama Rot?

There are no specific steps you can take to guarantee that your dog won't contract the disease, but there is some evidence of seasonal fluctuation, with most cases appearing between November and June.

It is suspected the disease spreads from muddy and wooded areas – dog owners who do walk their dogs in these places are advised to wash off any mud as soon as possible after a walk, and of course, keep close to their dogs at all times to monitor where they go and anything they may pick up or eat.

It is also advisable for all dog owners to monitor confirmed cases of Alabama Rot in their local area, and avoid walking your four-legged friend in any specific areas where a dog with a confirmed case has been walked.

Click here to find confirmed cases in your local area.