Due to an increasing number of cases being reported across England recently, dog owners are being urged to steer clear from woodland areas because of a very serious disease known as Alabama Rot.
Sadly, if the signs of Alabama Rot are not spotted early, it can lead to sudden and potentially fatal kidney failure.
But what exactly is this disease and how can you ensure your furry friend is safe? Take a read of our blog below to find out how knowing the warning signs can make a big difference to the life of your pet.
Alabama Rot is the common name for Idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV). It is a very serious disease which has only recently been recognised in dogs within the UK. It causes lesions on the skin and occasionally in the mouth which can look like bites, sores, wounds or stings. Some dogs go on to develop life-threatening kidney failure.
The disease was first identified in the USA in the 1980s, and it was believed to only affect greyhounds. However, the disease has actually been found to affect a wide range of breeds of any age or sex.
Whilst the cause at this time remains unknown, investigations are ongoing. Since November 2012, more than 60 dogs across the UK have been identified with clinicopathological findings similar to those reported in greyhounds in the 80s.
Skin lesions, typically appearing as ulcers on the distal limbs, commonly appear less than a week before clinical signs of acute kidney injury show.
In all cases of Alabama Rot, skin lesions form on the body. Within one to nine days of the skin lesions appearing, renal shutdown can follow which may ultimately be fatal.
The skin lesions are usually circular – about the size of a five pence piece – and often have a defect in the skin like an ulcer. They are often on the lower leg, below the knee, and the elbow.
Signs of kidney failure are vomiting, tiredness and not eating. These are very vague symptoms and can represent a number of other conditions.
The average time from showing skin lesions to signs of kidney failure is three days, but can be anywhere from 10 days to simultaneous presentation.
Unfortunately, as the cause of Alabama Rot is currently unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention. The current advice is to bath any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk. However, at this stage we do not know if this is necessary or of any benefit. While no exact cause is known, water or food related causes have been ruled out. It is more widely believed that Alabama Rot is caused by toxins produced by E.coli.
Often the first sign of this disease is unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin (particularly on the paw or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth).
It is important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will not be caused by Alabama Rot. However, the lesions can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites. So if you are in doubt, it is always best to seek veterinary advice.
For dogs that develop kidney failure, they commonly show signs of inappetance, lethargy and vomiting at which point immediate veterinary assistance should be sought.
If you are ever concerned about your dog, please contact your local Medivet practice where our team of friendly vets and nurses will be more than happy to help.