Despite the name, Alabama Rot is not found only in the southern American state of Alabama. Cases have been reported close to home in Worcestershire recently, so what is it?
There has been a lot of news coverage recently about Alabama Rot especially now that cases are appearing on our doorsteps in Worcestershire. It's currently getting a lot of press because very little is known about this mystery disease that sadly is proving fatal for many of the dogs that contract it.
Alabama Rot is actually a nickname for the disease, which is actually called cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV).
So what is it?
CRGV causes tiny blood clots to form and block the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys, these blockages can then lead to damage of the surrounding tissue or organ. In the skin it presents as ulceration and lesions (which is often the first sign for owners); whereas in the kidneys, it can lead to severe damage and eventually kidney failure.
How is it caused?
Unfortunately for dog owners, it's not yet known how and why some dogs are getting it; nor is it known where the problem is coming from as cases have appeared in several areas.
Investigations are currently ongoing and Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists are leading the research into the disease. You can find out more directly from them here.
How can I protect my Dog?
Because the cause is still unknown, it's impossible to give specific advise on avoiding it. We recommend that you wash your dogs feet and legs after all walks in wet or muddy conditions, however be warned that this precaution is not yet confirmed to offer any benefit or protection.
Currently there are no particular areas that specialists are warning dog owners to avoid as cases have been reported in many counties across the country.
The symptoms can very easily be misinterpreted as common cuts or grazes, insect bites/stings and skin allergies.
The majority of confirmed cases have presented with inflammation of the skin; usually redness, swelling or lesions. These are usually found on the dog's paws and legs however, some have also appeared on other areas including the body, face, tongue or mouth. The skin lesions are often the first sign of this disease although it's not yet known how early on these appear.
** Please remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by Alabama Rot, however if in doubt it is advised to seek veterinary advice. **
Thankfully many dogs presenting with skin irritation due to Alabama Rot don't develop kidney problems and will recover fully.
What does treatment involve?
If a vet treats a dog with symptoms similar to those of Alabama Rot, they will need to investigate whether the symptoms are likely to be that or another complaint. Treatment for the skin could include antibiotics, dressings and painkillers (called non-steroidals) and is usually fairly minimal. However, dogs developing kidney failure will likely need to be hospitalised for intensive treatment due to the seriousness of the condition.
If you are worried about Alabama Rot contact Brentknoll Vets in Worcester on 01905 355938