Alabama Rot - A Dog Owners Guide

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Alabama Rot - A Dog Owners Guide

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama rot is a very rare but also extremely deadly flesh eating disease that each year claims the lives of dogs in the UK every year. It does not discriminate and can affect dogs of all breeds, ages and sizes. Also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) very little is known about the condition, with research ongoing into its nature and origins.

Since research began in 2012 most reports of confirmed cases have come from owners that walk their dogs in rural areas with a majority of cases coinciding with the winter and spring months. Muddy woodland and marshland is also considered to be closely linked to the cases confirmed.

What does it look like and how does it affect our dogs?

Alabama rot is fatal because of the damage that the disease causes  to the kidneys.  It typically presents  in two ways.

  • Sores or lesions on the skin which cannot be attributed to any injury. These will mostly appear below the knee or elbow but can occasionally occur on the face or underneath the chest or abdomen.
  • Symptoms of acute kidney injury include; reduced appetite, increased thirst, vomiting and lethargy.

Some dogs will only develop the skin sores, however those that also develop kidney failure will sadly be unlikely to survive because of the damage this disease causes and the fact that there is no known cure.

It is important to remember that the vast majority of skin lesions will not be Alabama rot, and most cases of kidney failure will be down to other underlying causes. However, if you do notice any of the above mentioned symptoms it would always be sensible to get your dog checked out by your local vet as catching the signs early increases the chances of recovery.

What you can do to try and lower the risks

As muddy wooded areas are thought to be the origin of this disease it is advised to wash your dog off thoroughly after each walk and to monitor their skin and paws daily for anything new. Your vet will also be able to advise you on any cases in the local area or areas thought to be of current concern so that you can plan your dog walking routes according to this information.

Because so little is known about the disease's origins it is hard to give advice on how best to completely avoid your dog coming into contact with it. Thankfully it is very rare with only 284 cases in the last 10 years. Thankfully the majority of dogs will never be exposed or succumb to this strange disease.

Paul Manktelow

Veterinary Surgeon

Dr Paul Manktelow is a vet who's worked for almost 20 years on the front line in some of the UK's busiest veterinary hospitals. Paul also appears regularly in the media as a TV and radio presenter, writer, public speaker and podcast producer.