22 October 2019
The first symptoms of Alabama Rot are usually lesions or swellings on the skin, particularly on the paws, legs and mouth, which often look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. In the most severe of cases, the onset of life-threatening kidney failure can follow within a few days.
So far, a cause hasn’t been identified and there are no breeds or ages of dogs more affected than any other. Cases have been reported across the country, some of which appear in geographical clusters, suggesting that an environmental factor may cause the disease – but as yet, nothing has been proven.
The disease, with the clinical name ‘Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy’ (CRGV), causes tiny clots in the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys. In the most serious of cases where blood clots affect the kidneys, the result can be organ failure.
What can dog owners do?
The first point to note is that Alabama Rot is very rare. There are approximately eight million dogs in the UK, and incidence is extremely low. So, while it’s advised to be vigilant, there is no cause for alarm.
Currently there is no known cause and no vaccination. The main advice being given to dog owners is to take preventative measures, including trying to prevent the dog picking up or chewing on items found in affected areas, especially woodlands, and by thoroughly washing mud off your dog’s paws when you come back from a walk. This is thought to be particularly important after walking in wooded areas after spells of rain.
Robin Hargreaves, Senior Veterinary Advisor at Agria Pet Insurance, adds, “It’s good practice anyway to check your dog carefully when you groom them. Look for any signs of sores or swelling on their legs, body, face and mouth. Anything unusual should be reported to your vet immediately.
“More advanced symptoms of Alabama Rot include vomiting, lethargy (tiredness) reduced appetite. Again, if your dog is experiencing any of these symptoms seek veterinary advice straight away.”
It’s very important to remember that in the the vast majority of cases these symptoms are NOT that of Alabama Rot, however, due to the nature of the disease, it is vital that you contact your vet immediately should you suspect your dog may be at risk.