Alabama Rot in the UK

There has been a lot of news coverage about Alabama Rot recently, so we thought we would give you all the facts we have at the moment.

Whilst it is an awful disease, it’s worth remembering that in the last six years Alabama Rot has killed 100 dogs out of an estimated population of 8.5 million, so the risk is still very small.

What is it?

Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) is commonly known as Alabama Rot due to the way it causes large, rapidly growing skin lesions in the dogs it affects.

It’s a relatively new disease that was first identified in America in the 1980’s. A few sporadic cases were then identified in the UK by the end of 2012, and since then it has persisted with dogs continuing to die from it each year.

Very little is known about the disease. In fact we have yet to even discover whether the cause is parasitic, bacterial or even an extreme toxic poisoning resulting from E.coli. This makes developing a vaccine impossible. As no one knows the triggers, it’s also impossible to say with any certainty whether it’s transmitted environmentally or not, why some dogs get it and others don’t, or how to prevent or treat it. When it was first identified in the US it primarily effected greyhounds, but in this country it seems to favour no particular breed, sex, size or age of dog.

85% of dogs who contract the disease die from it, and this generally happens within seven days of infection as it rapidly affects the renal system.  Whilst it affects a very small amount of dogs, we do need to be very aware of it so we can try and prevent the spread of the disease, and treat any infected dogs as SOON as possible to give them the best chance of survival.

What are the symptoms to look out for?

The initial symptoms are painful sores that are most often on the legs, chest and stomach. These usually get worse over a few days and during this time other symptoms start to appear such as fever, lethargy, loss of appetite, and vomiting. Around day three their renal function starts to become impaired as the liver and kidneys start to fail. Once this happens, death is usually inevitable within four days.

What should I do if I think my dog is infected?

Call us to discuss the best course of action. We will arrange to see your dog at the earliest possible time but may wish to arrange for your pet to enter the practice through a different door to normal just as a safeguard. We have no real idea how this is spread, so it’s a sensible precaution to avoid areas where other – sometimes already weakened – animals will be.

We can treat symptoms and help lessen any discomfort your dog is in. If caught early enough and it has yet to spread to their liver and kidneys, we might be able to help support them to give them the best chance to fight through the disease.

Don’t forget that whilst we know very little about this, some UK dogs with the disease HAVE been successfully treated since 2013.

What can I do to stop my dog getting this?

Whist we can’t say for sure, the pattern of outbreaks across the UK makes it widely believed that the disease is spread via dog’s feet and legs.

The best way forward is avoidance, so if you know there has been an outbreak somewhere do NOT walk your dog there. There have been cases in Somerset as well as the neighbouring counties of Dorset, Devon, Wiltshire and Hampshire.

This map shows you areas where the disease has been identified:

Alabama rot in the UK

If you decide to, or have inadvertently, walked your dog in a suspected infected area, you should carefully wash your dog and any mud that has been transported by foot in the back of the car, in to their bed, on your floors etc with disinfectant.

We want your and you pooch to have a happy life together so don’t live in fear, but it goes without saying that this death rate of 100 is 100 more than anyone would have liked. Simply by exercising sensible avoidance, cleanliness and observation we CAN offer the doggy population the best chance to beat this.

Talk with a vet

If you need advice or help on anything you have read in this blog post please contact us on either of the numbers below where a vet will be able to assist you.

 Castle Cary: 01963 350307    Yeovil: 01935 474690