Alabama Rot: Everything you need to know about the deadly dog disease as cases rise and vets issue warning

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Fears are growing among dog owners after two new cases of the deadly disease Alabama Rot were confirmed in the UK.

The fatal, flesh-eating disease killed one dog a week in 2019, and has now tragically killed five dogs in the UK since the start of 2022.

The disease is still extremely rare in Lancashire – since 2014 only a handful of cases have been reported in Garstang, Fulwood, Leyland and Chorley.

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Clinically known as CRGV (Cutaneous Renal and Glomerular Vasculopathy), the disease was first identified in the USA in the 1980s.

Dog owners are being urged to be vigilantDog owners are being urged to be vigilant
Dog owners are being urged to be vigilant

Alabama rot is a disease that damages blood vessels in the skin and kidneys of dogs.

It causes blood to clot in the vessels which damages the lining and the delicate tissues of the kidneys.

This causes ulcers on a dog’s skin which can lead to fatal kidney failure.

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The cause of Alabama Rot remains unknown despite years of research by veterinary specialists though it appears to be seasonal, with 95 per cent of confirmed cases occurred between November and May.

Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin are often the first sign of Alabama RotUnexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin are often the first sign of Alabama Rot
Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin are often the first sign of Alabama Rot

There is currently no known way of preventing a dog from catching Alabama Rot and experts say treatment is only effective in around 20 per cent of cases.

Skin lesions

The first symptoms of Alabama Rot are skin lesions, open ulcers or sores, not caused by any known injury. These distinct injuries appear on the legs, body, mouth or tongue.

Most commonly these sores are found on the lower half of the leg and appear as a distinct swelling, a patch of red skin or are open and ulcer-like.

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The dog will lick at the sores and within days the dog will show symptoms of acute kidney injury (vomiting, reduced hunger or unusual tiredness). This can lead to sudden and potentially fatal kidney failure.

Dr Huw Stacey, vet and director of clinical services at Vets4Pets, said: "This disease is still very rare, so we’re advising dog owners to remain calm but vigilant, and seek advice from their local vet if their dog develops unexplained skin lesions."

As the cause is currently unknown, there is no way of preventing your dog from contracting the disease.

Some vets advise dog owners to wash any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk.

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According to Dr Stacey, if you think your dog has caught Alabama Rot, you should contact your vet immediately.

He said: “If a dog becomes infected, the best chance of recovery lies with early and intensive veterinary care at a specialist facility such as Anderson Moores or the Royal Veterinary College.

“Any dog owners who are worried that their pet might have Alabama Rot should contact their veterinary practice immediately.

“This will help build knowledge about the disease and also give a dog the best chance of survival.

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“Research will continue and, in time, we all hope the cause will be identified.

"Treatment is supportive, but is only successful in around 20 percent of cases.”

Further information about Alabama Rot can be found here.