Alabama rot in dogs
Alabama rot is a rare but serious condition which causes skin lesions and can lead to fatal kidney failure.
The cause of Alabama rot is unknown, but most dogs that need treatment have been walked in muddy, woodland areas. If you notice symptoms of Alabama rot, such as lesions, sores or ulcers on your dog’s legs, paws or face, contact your vet immediately. However, cases in the UK are low.
What are the symptoms of Alabama rot?
The first signs you may notice if your dog has contracted Alabama rot are:
- lesions or ulcers on the skin
- loss of appetite, tiredness or vomiting
Lesions and ulcers on your dog
These signs of Alabama rot could appear as a patch of red skin, or as an open ulcer or sore. These sores are most commonly found on a dog’s paws or lower legs, but they can also be found on a dog’s face, mouth or tongue, or on their lower body.
If your dog is showing signs of sore skin or ulcers and you know these have not been caused by an injury, contact your vet.
Signs of kidney failure in your dog
Not all dogs with skin lesions go on to develop kidney failure. If they do, dogs on average develop signs of kidney failure (such as loss of appetite, tiredness or vomiting) about three days after lesions begin to show on the skin, however the time between sores appearing and kidney failure can be between one and 10 days.
The earlier this disease is caught and treated by a vet, the higher the chances of recovery.
What is Alabama rot?
Alabama rot’s scientific name is cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV). It is a disease that damages blood vessels in the skin and kidneys.
It causes blood to clot in the blood vessels, which damages the lining and the delicate tissues of the kidneys and causes ulcers on a dog’s skin. Sadly, in some cases, it causes kidney failure which can be fatal.
What causes Alabama rot?
The actual cause of Alabama rot is not known. Some reports in the US suggest it's linked to the bacteria E.coli, but there is no evidence for this in cases seen in the UK.
It can affect any dog of any breed, age, or size.
The majority of dogs who have been treated for Alabama rot in the UK have been walked in muddy or woodland areas.
When is Alabama rot most common?
More cases are reported between November and May than between June and October, which suggests the dogs are more likely to be affected in winter and spring.
How can I stop my dog getting Alabama rot?
As the cause of Alabama rot is unknown, there is no way of making sure you stay away from the cause – but there are things you can do to prevent your dog from being affected.
- Check your dog’s body once a day for lumps and bumps (this is a good habit to get into)
- Check them regularly for the symptoms of Alabama rot
- Some vets will also advise washing off your dog's legs after a muddy walk although evidence that this helps is limited
Thankfully, the disease is not always fatal and the earlier it's caught, the greater your dog’s chances of survival.
Dogs cannot be vaccinated against Alabama rot.
If you are in doubt, give your vet a call. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Can my cat get Alabama rot?
Alabama rot is not thought to affect cats or rabbits.