Alabama Rot: a guide for dog owners

Cases of Alabama Rot, a potentially fatal disease that affects dogs, are on the rise in the UK. What should dog owners look out for?

Recent UK media reports have noted a rise in the number of cases of Alabama Rot, a potentially fatal disease that affects dogs. What is it? What does it look like? And how is it treated?

Andrew Moore BVM&S MRCVS, vet with MORE TH>N pet insurance (part of RSA Group), provides some answers:

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot is a colloquial term for CRGV (cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy). It is a disease that leads to tiny blood clots forming in the blood vessels in a dog’s skin and kidneys, causing skin lesions (ulcers) and possible kidney failure, which sadly, can be fatal.

What is Alabama Rot caused by?

While there several theories, no one particular cause has been confirmed.  

Black and white dog receives attention from their owner.
Regular grooming and skin checks are advised to spot early signs of Alabama Rot.

What symptoms should dog owners look out for?

Skin lesions – reddened swellings and/or areas of ulceration – are the most common signs of Alabama Rot. While pictures in the news tend to show lesions on dogs’ feet and legs, they could appear on any part of the body. Dogs affected by Alabama Rot may also appear ill – lethargic, off their food, weak or vomiting.

At the time this article was published...

  • 78

    confirmed cases of Alabama Rot since 2012.

  • 14

    were infected in the first four months of 2016.

  • 27

    counties in England and Wales since 2012 had recorded cases of Alabama Rot.

What is the treatment for Alabama Rot?

Dog owners who spot possible signs of Alabama Rot should get their dog checked over by a vet quickly. Rapid testing and treatment are critical. Dogs diagnosed with Alabama Rot will need supportive care and intravenous fluids (a drip). 

What preventative measures can dog owners take?

Washing mud and dirt off your dog after a trip outside may help as a first defence and prevention against Alabama Rot. Regular grooming and skin checks are also advised. 

Close up of a vet administering an IV drip to a brown dog.
Dogs diagnosed with Alabama Rot will need supportive care and intravenous fluids (a drip).

Don't wait to act

Speak to your vet immediately if you find anything unusual. Your local vet will also be able to give further advice relevant to your area. 

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