The signs of Alabama rot in dogs

The signs of Alabama rot in dogs

Alabama rot or Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) was first identified in the UK in 2012.

There have been more than 290 confirmed cases, with nine out of 10 dogs infected dying as a result.

What is Alabama rot?
This is a nasty disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. It causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue.

In the skin, this causes ulceration. However, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure) and even result in death.

This disease is still rare, with gun dogs and sight hounds most commonly affected, e.g. Labradors, whippets, spaniels and vizslas.

How will I know if my dog has Alabama Rot?
Signs typically include skin sores on the feet, between the toes/pads or around the face. It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by Alabama rot. The skin lesions in Alabama Rot can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites. Signs of kidney failure can unfortunately start after three days. Sadly the survival rate of dogs fully affected is only around 10%.

There have been cases of dogs that only show skin symptoms and in these cases they have a much greater survival rate. They respond well with antibiotics and go on to make a full recovery.

What causes Alabama rot?
Unfortunately, the cause is still unknown, but investigations are ongoing with veterinary specialists Anderson Moores taking the lead on this disease.

How do I stop my dog from getting this disease?
As the cause of Alabama Rot is still unknown, it’s difficult to say what to avoid, but we do recommend thorough washing down of your dog after walks to wash off mud and debris. Concentrate on paws, the under-carriage and face in particular.

How is it treated?
There is no specific blood test to confirm the disease nor any specific treatment. Tissue samples, alongside symptoms and blood tests will confirm a high index of suspicion. The use of antibiotics with dogs showing skin symptoms have helped with full recoveries in most cases.

The key message
It’s important to remember, that although Alabama rot can be extremely serious, the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains low in comparison to the number of dogs in the UK. However, if you are ever concerned or suspicious that your dog may have Alabama rot we advise contacting your vet immediately for advice.

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