The official name of Alabama Rot – Cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV)
Alabama rot was first identified back in 2012 in the UK and since then there have been approximately 260 confirmed cases, with nine out of 10 dogs infected dying as a result.
But what is Alabama rot (CRGV)?
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, but what we do know is that it is seen mostly between the months of November to May.
Gun dogs and sight hounds are most commonly affected, eg, Labradors, Whippets, Spaniels and Vizsla’s.
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. The skin lesions in Alabama Rot can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites.
It’s important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by Alabama Rot.
Signs of kidney failure can unfortunately start after three days and sadly the survival rate of dogs fully affected is 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 (particularly between the months mentioned above) to wash off mud and debris.
Areas to concentrate on are the paws, the under-carriage and face in particular.
How is it treated?
There is no specific blood test to confirm the disease, nor is there any specific treatment.
Tissue samples, alongside symptoms and blood tests (acute kidney injury, thrombocytopenia (deficiency of platelets in the blood)) will confirm a high index of suspicion.
As we said previously, the use of antibiotics with dogs showing skin symptoms have helped, with full recoveries in most cases.
Where are confirmed cases?
A map detailing all confirmed cases since 2012 can be found here.
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.
Photo credit Matthew Daniels