Alabama Rot

What you need to know about Alabama rot

Over the last five years, a condition called cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) – otherwise known as ‘Alabama rot’ – has emerged. Here's what you need to know about Alabama rot.

What is Alabama rot?

Over the last five years, a condition called cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy – otherwise known as ‘Alabama rot’ – has emerged. This condition was first reported in greyhounds in the 1980s and results in skin ulcers; in more severe cases, when micro-clots form within the kidneys, it can lead to acute kidney failure.

What should I look out for?

Dogs affected by CRGV often develop skin ulcers on their legs or paws, although some dogs have shown ulcers on their head, muzzle, tongue, sides and belly. The ulcers vary from small cuts to areas of redness that could be mistaken for a cut pad, bruise or sting. It’s important to remember that most skin ulcers aren’t caused by CRGV.

In some dogs, the skin ulcer is the only sign that develops, and these dogs can make a full recovery without developing kidney problems. However, some dogs will develop kidney failure, usually within 1–9 days of first noticing the skin ulcer(s). Symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, nausea, vomiting, increased thirst or decreased urination.

For this reason, if your dog develops a skin ulcer, you should speak with your Medivet vet.

How do I stop my dog from getting CRGV?

As the cause of CRGV is unknown, it’s difficult to give specific advice on prevention. You could bathe any parts of your dog that become wet or muddy while on a walk, but we don’t yet know for sure if this is of any benefit.

Because the underlying cause of CRGV is still unknown, there’s no specific treatment. Depending on the severity of the skin ulcer and level of suspicion for CRGV, your veterinary surgeon may recommend treatment for the skin ulcer and also early monitoring of kidney function with blood and urine tests.

For dogs that develop kidney problems, it’s likely that supportive treatment will be required for your dog in the hospital and your vet may recommend referral to a specialist.

Where should I walk my dog to avoid CRGV?

Dogs suspected or confirmed to have CRGV have come from all over the UK. Although an environmental cause for this condition has not been excluded, currently there are no recommendations to avoid walking your dog in particular areas.

How common is CRGV?

Between November 2012 and March 2019, there have been 176 confirmed cases of CRGV, with most cases occurring between November and May each year. It’s important to remember that this is still a very rare condition.

What are we doing to learn more?

In order to improve the diagnosis and management of CRGV, it’s vital we do more research. There are a number of different studies at the Royal Veterinary College, in conjunction with colleagues at Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. Research is costly in terms of both time and money, so one of the ways that you can help us fight this condition is to consider fundraising or donations to help support this work.

The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) is a national charity aiming to raise awareness and funds for Alabama rot (CRGV) research. Donations can also be made to the Animal Care Trust.

Want to learn more about Alabama rot? Listen to the Royal Veterinary College podcast.

For advice on the health of your pet, speak to your local Medivet practice.

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