Animal Friends Blog
Alabama rot is a rare but potentially fatal disease that causes damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. It’s sometimes known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy and was first identified in the 1980s in US greyhounds, where similarities have been found with the dogs who’ve contracted the disease in the UK.
So far there have been over 200 confirmed cases on the British Isles, with the majority of dogs not making a recovery. Just last year (2018) 52 dogs died after contracting the illness and it’s fatal in 9 out of 10 dogs.
Knowing the dangers and being able to recognise the signs will help in the fight against Alabama rot as specialists try to find a cure.
What causes Alabama rot?
The actual cause of the disease is not known, but it seems prevalent in wet and muddy areas. Vets suspect there might be an environmental trigger, but research is still being done to try and find a definite cause, which would then lead to a cure. We donated £20,000 to the Alabama Rot Research Fund to try and help against this deadly disease.
What are the symptoms of Alabama rot?
The first sign of the disease is skin sores that are not caused by an injury. These are most commonly found below the knee or elbow, but can appear on the face, and can present as lesions, swelling, redness or ulcers.
These sores will appear before symptoms of kidney failure, where the loss of appetite, weight loss, increased thirst, vomiting and lethargy are all signs that the disease has escalated. As soon as you notice any unexplained sores, speak to your vet.
How is Alabama rot treated?
The quicker treatment can be started, the greater the chance of survival. When a dog is suffering from sores or lesions, your vet might recommend the use of antibiotics while kidney failure will need much more intensive treatment.
Unfortunately, the fatality rate of the disease is high however there are a number of dogs who have survived, but acting quickly when you suspect something is amiss plays the most important part in successfully treating the disease. The sooner your vet gets to see your dog, the better the chance of survival.
How can Alabama rot be prevented?
Because the cause of the disease is not yet known, there’s currently no known way of preventing it but there are a few precautions you can take following a dog walk.
- Wash your dog and clean their paws after every walk, especially wet or muddy ones
- Check your dog daily for any signs of developing sores or lesions
- Try to avoid wet or muddy walks, and stick to paths if you can
- Speak to your vet as soon as you suspect Alabama rot in your dog
All dogs, regardless of breed, age or weight, can be affected by the condition so it’s important to understand the disease and be aware of its symptoms so that you’re able to recognise them quickly and seek veterinary attention if you think your dog has Alabama rot.
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