An update on Alabama Rot

The recent terrifying tales of Alabama Rot have gripped dog owners around the UK. Last month, the Royal Veterinary College released an article, which contains excellent news of progress, as we can all agree. But what does this mean for owners? We’re certainly not yet out of the woods; in 2018, more dogs died of the disease than in any other previous year, and it's not over yet. But has the advice changed? What can we be doing to prevent the spread of this killer? 

We've all seen the horror news articles and images, heard the stories of dogs being diagnosed closer and closer to home with growing unease; in this blog we share as much information and advice on the topic as we can.

On 1st August 2018, the Royal Veterinary College (RVC) released this article regarding the treatment of Alabama rot, which was fantastic news, but our precious pets aren’t yet safe.

So what IS Alabama rot?

Firstly, Alabama rot’s “proper” name is cutaneous and renal glomerula vasculopathy (CRGV), and it was first identified in the USA in the 1980s, recognised in Greyhounds in Alabama.

The Blue Cross describes the side effects that Alabama rot damages blood vessels and causes blood to clot in the skin and kidneys, causing painful skin lesions but more seriously (and potentially fatal) kidney failure. As far as we know, Alabama rot is not thought to affect cats or rabbits.

What causes Alabama rot?

The exact cause of Alabama rot is not known; this is one of the reasons it is so difficult to contain and prevent – and certainly a big worry to dog owners.

Dogs of any age, breed and size can be affected, and most cases are reported between November and May than June and October; winter and spring seem to be the times most dogs fall ill with it.

It is highly worth noting that most dogs that have been treated for Alabama rot in the UK have been walked in muddy/woodland areas; this does not mean it is impossible for your dog to pick it up if you only walk them down the street, but be extra vigilant if muddy woodland areas are you and your  pet’s usual stomping ground.

What are the symptoms?

The first visible signs of Alabama rot are the unsightly ulcers/lesions on your dog’s skin. These could look like anything from a small patch of red skin, to an open sore. They are most commonly found on a dog’s paws or legs, but can also be found on a dog’s face, mouth, tongue, or somewhere else on their lower body.

Signs of kidney failure include loss of appetite, tiredness and vomiting.

Most importantly – what can I do?

There is no hard and fast way to make sure that your dog absolutely cannot catch Alabama rot, but there is plenty you can do to give you and your pet the best chance of avoiding it.

Your best tool as a dog owner is your observation and vigilance; the earlier this disease is caught and treated by a vet, the higher the chances of recovery.

DO NOT ASSUME that just because you don’t regularly walk your dog in muddy or wooded areas that they are safe. We do not yet know enough about the disease to rule out other ways for your dog to contract it. If cases have been reported near you, try to avoid the areas where these dogs were walked.

CHECK your dog’s body once a day – this is a great thing for owners to be doing anyway, but check particularly for the lesions detailed above. Remember, legs, lower body, around the face and mouth.

WASHING any mud off your dog’s legs and paws after a walk might help, but as we do not have a definitive cause this can’t be proven.  Always follow your vet’s advice if your dog has sensitive skin or is prone to skin conditions, but a warm bowl of water and our range of wildwash shampoos are perfect for a quick clean up and dried off with the Henry Wag Microfibre towels or Doggy Bag.

BE SAFE, NOT SORRY – dogs can suffer from kidney failure between 1 and 10 days after lesions begin to show on the skin, but the average is just 3 days. If you are concerned or unsure, give your vet a call.

Alabama Rot UK identified locations