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, sadly around 85% to 90% of cases are fatal.  

It’s important to recognise the symptoms and have the right pet insurance policy in place, to make sure your dog is protected.

Alabama Rot (CRGV) is a devastating disease that can affect dogs of any breed, size or age. Although it’s very rare, sadly around 85% to 90% of cases are fatal.  

It’s important to recognise the symptoms and have the right pet insurance policy in place, to make sure your dog is protected.

Mubina Pirmohamed
Pet Insurance expert
4
minute read
Do you know someone who could benefit from this article?
Posted 24 MAY 2021

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot, also known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is a rare but often 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 may suggest 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 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. But 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 (kidney) failure. Symptoms to watch out for include:

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

These symptoms typically occur one to nine 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. 

Compare pet insurance

Get a pet insurance quote and you could start saving now

Get a quote

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 address 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. 

Is Alabama Rot always fatal?

Sadly, most cases are fatal. The only way to confirm Alabama Rot is to examine a sample of the dog’s kidney after it has died. Because of this, it’s very hard for vets to determine the actual number of dogs that have recovered from the disease.

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.

What type of dogs are affected by Alabama Rot?

Although the first cases of Alabama Rot were mainly in greyhounds, the disease can affect all breeds, both large and small, and of any sex and age.

Is Alabama Rot contagious?

It’s believed that Alabama Rot isn’t contagious and can’t be passed from dog to dog. But there have been reports of multiple dogs from the same household being affected by the disease.

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.

Is Alabama Rot covered by pet insurance?

It depends on the type of policy you take out. For example, an accident-only policy will only cover injuries to your pet, not illnesses. 

Pet insurance that includes illness should cover Alabama Rot if your dog contracts the disease after you’ve taken out a policy. But most policies won’t cover pre-existing illnesses. 

Time limited, maximum benefit, and lifetime policies can all cover accident and illness. 

Always check the terms and conditions before buying a pet insurance policy, so you know what’s covered and what’s excluded. Some policies have time limits in which you can claim, others will only let you claim up to a maximum amount. Lifetime pet insurance is the most complete pet insurance. It can cover illnesses, injuries and accidents for the entirety of the policy. But as with the other policies, it won’t usually cover any pre-existing conditions.

Find out more about the different types of pet insurance

Did you know?

The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) is a national charity set up to research all aspects of the disease and raise awareness through fundraising. If you want to find out more about ARRF’s research into this deadly disease, you can visit the charity’s stop Alabama rot webiste.

Should I get pet insurance?

Depending on the type of policy you choose, pet insurance can help to cover costly vet fees for accidents and illnesses, helping you protect your pet should they become sick and need treatment. Always check the policy documents carefully to find out if any excesses, limitations and exclusions apply.


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

 

Get a quote

Compare pet insurance

Get a pet insurance quote and you could start saving now

Get a quote
Compare pet insurance Get a quote