Really walking in mud

Alabama rot in dogs: what is it and how can I prevent it?

Alabama rot: it’s back, and it’s serious. We tackle the latest hot topic among UK dog owners – what is Alabama rot, and how can I prevent my dog from getting it?

What is Alabama rot?

The tabloid press are calling it ‘the dogs’ black death’ – but what are the facts about Alabama rot, and how can you stop your dog from getting it?

Also known as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), Alabama rot is a serious, often fatal condition that’s becoming increasingly common in the UK. It can affect dogs of any age, size and breed.

Alabama rot causes damage to the blood vessels of the skin and kidneys, which leads to tissue death and organ failure. 

The condition originally made its way to the UK from the US in the mid-1980s, where it was first spotted in greyhounds at racetracks in Alabama. While the disease has all but died out in the US, it’s become a bigger problem in the UK. 

Is my dog at risk of contracting Alabama rot?

While Alabama rot is still relatively rare in the UK – there have been 166 confirmed cases of Alabama rot in the UK since 2012, with 43 cases so far in 2018 – it’s vital that dog owners can recognise the symptoms.

What are the signs and symptoms of Alabama rot in dogs?

The disease is often recognised by oozing, open sores on the skin, most commonly on the lower leg. These sores appear as a red, ulcer-like patch of skin. 

Around three to five days later, affected dogs can display signs of kidney failure – extreme tiredness, loss of appetite and vomiting. 

Can I prevent Alabama rot in my dog?

Experts don’t know what causes Alabama rot, and there’s currently no vaccination against the disease. The best advice is to be vigilant, and to contact your vet immediately if you spot any unexplained sores or lesions on your dog’s skin. It may be beneficial to wash your dogs’ paws and legs after muddy walks as there are some thoughts that the disease may be picked up on the paws and legs in woodland mud.

The earlier Alabama rot is caught and treated, the higher the chances of your dog making a good recovery.

“Alabama rot is often recognised by oozing, open sores on the skin, most commonly on the lower leg. These sores appear as a red, ulcer-like patch of skin.” 

Need advice on Alabama rot in dogs?

For more information on Alabama rot in dogs, get in touch with your local vet. To find your nearest recommended vet or pet clinic, use our Find a Vet page.