As the autumn kicks in, so do muddy dog walks, and our bet is that there’s going to be a fair bit of press around Alabama Rot again. But how dangerous is it, and are you at risk? We spoke to Catriona Beccles from Coastway Vets to get the facts.
“Alabama rot (CRGV) is a disease of dogs which we still do not fully understand, as the exact cause has not been identified. We know that it was first seen in racing greyhounds in the US and that the dog will typically present with skin lesions, often around the paws, under the belly and around the lips. These can be red areas, open ulcers or dark black scabbed lesions.
“Within a few days to a week there can be signs of sudden onset kidney disease; such as depression, reduced appetite, drinking more and vomiting.”
Sadly, most cases so far have proved fatal. It’s still very rare and because of this, reports around the country have shown that the condition is sometimes misdiagnosed. But as of last year only four confirmed cases had been recorded in Sussex in 2017, with just a few others over the last few years. So there isn’t any need for widespread panic just yet. But it’s something to keep an eye out for.
Prevention is better than cure, in this particular case. So here’s some suggested tips from the Dog’s Trust.
WHAT CAUSES IT?
“There are a number of lines of research into the possible cause,” explains Catriona. “Currently an environmental trigger has been suggested. There also appears to be a seasonal pattern as there have been more cases recorded in the winter months between November and May.
“Therefore the current advice is to be careful to wash mud off your dog’s paws as soon as they return from a walk in case the disease is caused by an organism carried in mud. There are no reports of cats or humans being affected.”
As it seems likely to be a condition that exacerbates, rather than improves, there is considerable research going into the causes, effects and cures of Alabama Rot. And the research is showing positive results already.
“Research is ongoing at a number of veterinary specialists, including Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists in Winchester, and on a positive note, there are now a number of recorded cases where dogs have survived with aggressive treatment.”
Abbey Green Vets have also been working with Anderson Moores – who are in Hampshire and widely accepted as the authority on this particular disease – and they’ve kindly shared some images from a case they’ve had in their clinic.
KEEPING THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE
“The actual proportion of pet dogs affected by the disease is extremely low when compared with the overall number of pets in the country; so although it’s a frightening condition, the chances of developing the disease are very slim.
“This means it’s definitely not on an ‘epidemic scale’ and actually more dogs probably die each year from heat stroke and road traffic accidents.
“However pet-owners should remain vigilant and keep an eye out for new or unusual skin lesions (redness/swelling/ulcerations) on their dogs, particularly on the feet or legs. If you’re seeing something like that, you should contact a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.”
Catriona at Coastway Vets Sussex for the interview
Abbey Green Vets for the case images and info
To Dog’s Trust for the infographic advice
You can find out lots more information about the disease at research leaders Anderson Moores
Map of Alabama Rot UK can be found here