What is Alabama rot?
Alabama rot is a disease that damages blood vessels in the skin and kidney. It causes blood to clot in the vessels which damages the lining and the delicate tissues of the kidneys. This causes ulcers on a dog's skin, but sadly it causes kidney failure in the kidneys, which can be fatal.
In affected dogs, skin sores typically appear an average of three days before the development of kidney failure; although in some dogs, kidney failure can occur up to ten days later. The signs of kidney failure can include tiredness, not eating, vomiting and a change in drinking. Although the sores are most often on the legs, they can sometimes be seen on the body or face. Some dogs only get skin sores/lesions without ever getting blood test changes.
Advice suggests keeping your dog away from very muddy or boggy areas. It is suspected the disease spreads from muddy and wooded areas – dog owners who do walk their dogs in these places are advised to wash off any mud as soon as possible, and of course, keep close control of their dogs at all times to monitor where they go.
It can affect any dog of any breed, age, or size.
More cases are reported between November and May than between June and October, which suggests the dogs are more likely to be affected in winter and spring.
What signs should I look out for in my dog?
The first sign of Alabama Rot is skin sores that have not been caused by a physical injury. These sores can present as lesions, swelling, a patch of red skin, or may be open and ulcer-like. The sores are most commonly found below the knee or elbow or occasionally on the stomach or face. Usually, this will cause localised hair loss and the dog will begin licking the wound. These lesions will be followed – between two and seven days later – with outward symptoms of kidney failure: reduced appetite, fatigue, and vomiting.
Affected dogs will also develop signs of severe depression, loss of appetite and vomiting, quickly accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys.
What should I do if I think my dog has Alabama rot?
The best outcomes seem to be achieved by catching it early and the animal receiving high-quality veterinary care. Whilst some infected dogs do survive the treatments of skin sores and kidney failure, unfortunately, many do not – it is estimated that treatment is only successful in around 20% - 30% of cases.
What is the source or cause of Alabama rot?
The source of the disease is unknown, with the Environment Agency ruling out any chemical contamination in water supplies. Experts believe the disease is thought to be related to a toxin produced by E. Coli bacteria. However, no evidence of this has been found after no signs were shown on the infected dogs.
Can my cat get Alabama rot?
Alabama rot is not thought to affect cats or rabbits.