I’m sure many of you have heard of Alabama Rot and it’s occurrence in the UK over recent years. While the number of cases have remained small, it is still a disease worth looking out for. Alabama Rot often leads to fatalities in dogs, so please take a moment to read this post which explains the disease and also gives advice on how to try and prevent it.
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot was first discovered in the USA in 1980, and primarily affected Greyhounds. However, especially after its arrival in the UK, it has been discovered that the disease can affect any and all breeds of dog, and so far the disease has been found to only exist in dogs with no other animals contracting it thus far (including humans). While the number of the cases in the UK are quite low (around 60 cases between 2012 and 2015) the fatality rate is 9/10 and so is not something to be taken lightly. While the last thing anyone should do is panic, it is important to be aware of the seriousness of the condition so that any suspicions that your dog may have contracted it are reported immediately. Currently, the cause of Alabama rot is unknown.
What are the signs of Alabama Rot?
There are several symptoms of the disease that present themselves in dogs. While some of these symptoms may also be related to different conditions it is advised that you stay on the safe side and get your dogs checked out at the vet.
- Skin lesions (usually on lower leg and elbows. Also on the tongue and mouth)
- The hair around lesions will fall off, potentially causing the dog to lick excessively
- Kidney failure (vomiting, fatigue, lack of appetite)
- Ulcers and sores
The average time between skin lesions and kidney failure is around three days so it is imperative you get your dog to the vet in this window. While it can be difficult to distinguish lesions from cuts and other wounds, it is advised that you take action even if you are only a little concerned. As the disease is rare, most vets will not know how to treat this illness and so it is worth either calling or getting referred to the Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists. They have extensive knowledge of the disease and have dealt with the majority of cases. They are also an amazing practice, our experience with them when Inky was sick (with an unrelated illness) was amazing.
How can you protect your pet?
While there is no vaccine for Alabama Rot and no known means of cause or prevention, there are a few things you can try and do to help to protect your dog from the disease. The main thing you can do as an owner is keep a close eye on your dog while walking to monitor anything they may pick up, chew, or eat on their walks. If they become ill, call a vet as soon as possible and provide clear and accurate details of the illness.
It is advised that you try to avoid walking your dog in forested areas if possible, as this is where the disease is often contracted, however there is no certain evidence that the disease is based on environmental factors. So far, cases have occurred as far apart as Cornwall and Yorkshire with a spike of cases appearing in the New Forest in 2013. Recently, Gloucestershire was also affected along with Northern Ireland.
The disease is currently thought to be picked up on muddy paws and legs so it is strongly advised that you give your dog a thorough wash after a mucky walk. This may help prevention of the disease.
While the disease can be contracted all year round, the vast majority of cases occurred between November and May. This suggests a possible association with winter and spring, but unfortunately we still have no certain evidence.
How can you keep updated?
The Alabama Rot website is excellent for updates on recent occurrences of the disease and also for giving advice on what to do if you are afraid your dog has contracted it. We highly recommend that you follow them and their reports so that you can stay updated on news about Alabama Rot in your area and any signs that a cause or vaccine may have been discovered.
Please also be sure to keep Anderson Moores Veterinary Surgery’s details to hand in case you should encounter the condition, as they are specialists and know how to best treat the condition.
There are many dogs who have survived Alabama Rot, if you are even a little afraid that your dog may be sick with it then please do not hesitate to get veterinary advice. Please note that we at Philomena London are not veterinary professionals, and while we do our best to gather reliable sources information may not always be 100% accurate.