Everything you need to know about Alabama rot

What is Alabama rot?

Alabama rot, otherwise known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is a disease affecting dogs by causing damage to the skin and kidney's blood vessels.

This can cause small blood clots to form resulting in blockages that can lead to damage of the affected tissue. This damage causes visible ulceration in the skin, but when the kidney is affected it can lead to severe organ dysfunction and ultimately kidney failure.

What causes Alabama rot?

Dogs love walkies!

Currently, the cause of the disease is unknown.  Since December 2012, a small number of cases have been seen throughout the UK.

Unfortunately, there are currently no known causes for the disease, although research is ongoing.

We do know that most reports come from pet owners who walk their dogs in the countryside and that most cases are reported during winter and spring, but the specific cause is unknown. Generally, cases are rare in the summer months, compared to the colder months.

Should I be worried about my dog contracting Alabama rot?

The number of cases reported in the UK is extremely low and so there is little reason to be worried. Thousands of dogs are walked in the countryside every day and it is important to remember that only a very small amount of dogs have been affected.

What symptoms of Alabama rot should I look for?

The appearance of skin sores not caused by a known injury is a symptom of Alabama rot. In typical cases, skin legions have appeared below the knee or elbow and occasionally on the face or at the bottom of the chest or abdomen.

There may be visible swelling, a red patch or a defect in the skin (perhaps an ulcer). Otherwise, reduced appetite, drinking more, vomiting and lethargy are signs of acute kidney injury.

Remember, the majority of visible skin lesions will not be caused by Alabama rot disease while most cases of kidney failure will be a result of another cause.

Can I do anything to avoid Alabama rot?

While it is extremely difficult to give advice about how to avoid Alabama rot, it is advisable to wash off all mud following a wet and muddy walk, especially through woodland. At this stage there is no proof that this is necessary or indeed helpful.

What should I do if my dog is showing signs of Alabama rot?

Dog asleep in a dog bed © RSPCA

If you are concerned that your dog may be suffering, we urge that you contact your vet immediately for further advice. If affected, early recognition and aggressive management are likely to have the best results.

Once again, we would like to stress that the threat is very low, and while there may be an environmental trigger, we cannot confirm that some areas are safer than others.

Owners have no need to panic and can visit specialist vets Anderson Moore for more information and if they wish, they can contribute to furthering research at The Alabama rot Research Fund (ARRF).

Find your nearest vet.

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