What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot is a disease that is fatal in 9 out of 10 dogs. The first recorded cases were seen in racing greyhounds in Alabama, USA giving the disease its name. It is also called CRGV (Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy) which more accurately describes the disease process which involves the skin and the kidneys. It causes tiny blood clots which block the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys resulting in damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes open sores / ulceration but in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure).
In the UK, between November 2012 and now there have just over 100 confirmed cases. The first cases were seen in dogs who had been walked in the New Forest but it is now clear that any dog can get Alabama Rot, anywhere in the UK.
What is the cause?
The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing. Unfortunately, as the cause is currently unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention. Although there have been reports of CRGV across many different counties in the UK, an environmental cause is suspected so you may wish to consider bathing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk. However, at this stage, we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit.
What are the signs of the disease?
Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin (particularly on the paws or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth) are often the first sign of this disease. It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by CRGV; However, the lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites, so if in doubt it is better to seek veterinary advice.
Clinical signs of kidney failure are varied and can be similar to signs seen with many other diseases. The most common signs are vomiting, lack of appetite, drinking a lot of water and being lethargic. If there is any doubt we can advise taking blood tests to check kidney function but it is important to remember that even if the skin changes are caused by CRGV, many dogs will not develop kidney problems and will recover fully.
How is CRGV treated?
If your dog develops a skin lesion we will be able to advise you on the most appropriate management. Your dog may need antibiotics and a dressing applied to the skin wounds.
Dogs that go on to develop kidney problems will be very unwell and need to be admitted into hospital to be given fluid via a drip as well as have their blood pressure and urine output closely monitored. In severe cases their kidneys may shut down and stop producing urine and referral to an university hospital may be necessary.
For more information please contact us on 01708 251200