Alabama Rot has hit the headlines recently — causing concern for anyone who cares about canines.
And while we won’t dismiss the devastating damage it can do to dogs, it’s important to keep informed on the latest developments.
Here are a few crucial facts on the condition’s background, symptoms and treatment.
The clinical name for Alabama Rot is Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV) and it’s a serious disease that’s only recently been recognised in UK dogs.
It causes lesions on the skin and occasionally in the mouth that look like bites, sores or stings. Some dogs proceed to develop life-threatening kidney failure and any age, sex, or breed can be affected.
It’s been under intense investigation by several specialist veterinary research organisations in the past few years and possible causes like common bacterial infections and exposure to toxins have been ruled out.
So what exactly is CRGV?
- It’s a disease caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney.
- It causes tiny blood clots that block blood vessels and leads to damage of the affected tissue. In the skin, this causes ulceration — but in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure).
The cause of CRGV remains unknown at the moment — investigations are still in progress.
Since there’s no known cause at present, it’s very difficult to give specific advice about prevention, but the following guidance might be beneficial:
- Consider bathing any area of your dog which becomes wet or muddy on a walk.
- Cases of CRGV have been reported from across many different counties in the UK, so we’re not currently advising dog owners to avoid any particular locations.
Here’s what to look out for if you’re worried your dog might have CRGV:
- Unexplained redness, sores or swelling of the skin on the paws, legs, body, face, tongue or mouth are often the first signs — but it’s important to remember that most of the time a skin problem will NOT be caused by CRGV.
- The lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites — so take no chances and if in doubt, always seek veterinary advice.
- Even if skin changes are caused by CRGV, many dogs will not develop kidney problems and recover fully.
Although CRGV can be very serious, the number of dogs affected with skin lesions and kidney failure remains low (56 confirmed cases across the UK between November 2012 and May 2015).
If your dog develops a CRGV-related skin lesion your vet might advise these treatments are appropriate:
- Administering antibiotics and covering the affected area.
- Avoiding some forms of painkiller (non-steroidals).
Dogs developing kidney failure (acute kidney injury) will need much more intensive management, so your vet may recommend referral to a specialist.
CRGV is still rare — but our vets won’t rest until research has progressed and it’s consigned to the history books.