It sounds like it should be happening only across the seas, but Alabama rot is a very real and very serious disease that can occur anywhere in the UK and affect any breed, leading to fatalities in 9 out of 10 dogs.
As the name suggests, it originated in the USA in 1980 but has more recently been recognised in the UK. In between November 2012 and May 2015 alone, 56 dogs were confirmed as having Alabama Rot.
But what exactly is it?
Like any disease, prevention is better than cure but to be able to look at preventative methods means understanding the basics of what this disease actually is.
Known to most as Alabama rot, it is also known from a medical perspective as ‘Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy’, or CRGV for short. It’s not a discriminatory disease and can affect all breeds, sexes and ages of dog.
Technically speaking, Alabama rot is a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidneys. It causes small blood clots to form in the blood vessels, blocking them over time before ultimately damaging the affected tissue.
It is believed to be caused by super-bug E.Coli and the name is a result of the fact that it can lead any affected dog to literally start festering and rot. And if that doesn’t sound nasty enough already, read on to find out what can happen to affected pooches.
What are the Symptoms?
The initial symptoms are lesions and ulceration of the skin. These can also pop up in the mouth but are not always obvious to the owner as a symptom of this disease, due to the fact they can look like bites, sores or stings. If no injury is suspected, it’s absolutely worth considering if Alabama rot is the offender.
In addition to this, and within days of being infected, a poorly pooch can experience loss of appetite, bouts of vomiting and extreme tiredness.
Worse still, when Alabama rot gets into the kidneys, severe organ dysfunction can occur, making the overall result kidney failure. This doesn’t happen in every case but is a fairly common advancement.
How can it be avoided?
Frustratingly, there is no known cause of the disease. It is suspected that bacterial infections are to blame but it could be any number of things, which of course makes it even more challenging to help your pup out in the first instance.
The main thing any dog owner or sitter can do is to ensure the utmost in cleanliness at times when your four-legged friend has been out and about, particularly in wet, marshy and damp conditions. If their walkies has been through a particularly muddy woodland area, then prompt and thorough bathing could help.
Due to the lack of sufficient knowledge in the ability to prevent it, there is no vaccine at this present time. If you suspect your pal to be experiencing any of the associated symptoms, particularly excessive licking or gnawing at specific areas where ulcers or sores are present, without any known injury, take them to the vets straight away. It’s a rare condition but persistence could be key in the fight against this damaging disease.