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Guide to Alabama Rot in dogs

Guide to Alabama Rot in dogs

Alabama Rot (CRGV) is a devastating disease that can affect dogs of any breed, size or age. Although it’s very rare, 90% of cases are fatal.  

So it’s important to recognise the symptoms of this life-threatening disease – and to have the right pet insurance in place to make sure your dog is covered.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
minute read
posted 8 OCTOBER 2019

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot, also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is a rare but fatal disease that affects the kidneys and skin of dogs.   

Tiny blood clots form in the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys, causing skin ulcers and lesions and, potentially, leading to kidney failure.

The disease takes its name from the US state of Alabama, where the first cases were diagnosed in greyhounds in the 1980s. The first UK cases were reported in 2012, in the New Forest area. 

According to the Royal Veterinary College (RVC), 153 cases of Alabama Rot were confirmed in the UK between November 2012 and March 2018. Most cases are reported between the months of November and May, which suggests it’s a seasonal disease. 

What causes Alabama Rot?

Unfortunately, very little is known about the disease and the cause remains a mystery. Research suggests that there’s a link between dogs that are walked in muddy, heathland and woodland areas – and that damp, muddy conditions could be a possible cause. However, the RVC stresses that it’s extremely rare and that owners shouldn’t avoid their usual dog-walking routine. 

What are the symptoms of Alabama Rot?

The first signs that your dog may have contracted Alabama Rot are noticeable lesions and ulcers on their skin, most commonly on the paws and lower legs. They can also form on the nose, mouth or tongue. These tend to appear as red patches or open sores. 

Some dogs will go on to develop kidney problems, which could eventually lead to renal failure. Symptoms to watch out for include:

  • unusual tiredness
  • lack of appetite
  • increased thirst
  • vomiting
  • decreased urination.

These symptoms typically occur 1-9 days after the appearance of skin lesions.  

If you notice any of these signs and you’re concerned your dog may have Alabama Rot, contact your vet as soon as possible. 

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What is the treatment for Alabama Rot?

Since the cause is still unknown, there’s no specific treatment for Alabama Rot and, as yet, no vaccine is available. Your vet can try to treat the symptoms in a few different ways, including:

  • antibiotic treatment for the skin lesions
  • blood and urine tests
  • kidney function test
  • supportive treatment for kidney problems.

Although the survival rate is low, the sooner your dog’s treated, the greater the chance of recovery. 

How can I prevent Alabama Rot?

Remember, Alabama Rot is extremely rare and a skin lesion doesn’t necessarily mean your dog has this disease. But, for greater peace of mind, you could:

  • avoid walking your dog in very muddy areas
  • wash your dog if they’re muddy or wet after a walk
  • familiarise yourself with the signs of Alabama Rot
  • when grooming your dog, check for marks and sores under the fur.

Can humans or other animals get Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot is only known to affect dogs. There are no reported cases in humans or other animals. 

Although Alabama Rot is serious, try to remember that the chances of your dog being infected are very low and you should continue to enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle with your pet.

Should I get pet insurance?

Pet insurance that covers illnesses could help cover costly vet fees and protect your pet, should they become sick and need treatment.  

Compare pet insurance quotes to find the right policy for you. 

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