What is Alabama rot in dogs?
Alabama rot is also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) and is a rare and mysterious disease affecting dogs, causing damage to the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys. Unfortunately, this damage often goes on to cause kidney failure. Cases were first seen amongst greyhounds in the US state of Alabama in the 1980’s, but little reach was done at this time as cases subsequently fell.
What causes Alabama rot in dogs?
We don’t yet know! While CRGV is thankfully very rare, cases are gradually on the increase, and research is trying to investigate the cause so that we may be able to prevent it and treat it more effectively. It appears to be seasonal, with most cases occurring between November and June. There may be an association with muddy and woodland areas and there was speculation in the US that cases may be linked to E.coli bacteria, although there is no evidence for this in the UK.
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What are the symptoms of Alabama rot in dogs?
The initial symptoms are typically sores on the skin, usually around the paws and lower legs, but they may be found on other areas. They vary in severity and can sometimes look very mild, like a little cut or area of redness. Some dogs only suffer from these skin lesions and go on to make a full recovery. However, other dogs are less fortunate and go on to develop kidney failure, usually 1-9 days later.
The symptoms can therefore include:
- Skin sores usually on paws and lower legs, but may be elsewhere
- Loss of appetite
- Increased thirst and urination
How is Alabama rot in dogs diagnosed?
Your vet will examine any skin lesions and if they are concerned about the possibility of Alabama rot then they will recommend blood and urine tests to check the kidney values, along with some other parameters. Currently, there is no definitive test for Alabama rot while a dog is still alive – it can only be diagnosed for certain by looking at post-mortem samples from the kidneys.
How is Alabama rot in dogs treated?
Given that the cause is currently unknown, there are unfortunately no specific treatments available at this time. Treatment is therefore usually supportive – managing the skin wounds and monitoring kidney function with blood and urine tests.
For dogs that go on to develop kidney failure, aggressive treatment is needed, which may include dialysis at a specialist referral institution.
Will my dog recover from Alabama rot?
If your dog goes on to develop kidney failure then the chances of survival are sadly very low.
Can I prevent Alabama rot in my dog?
Given that we do not yet know the cause, it is very difficult to advise on prevention. Since there appears to be an association with walking in muddy conditions it may be sensible to wash any areas of your dog that are muddy after a walk.