18th April 2018

Alabama Rot – What should I know?

Anyone who reads the papers or looks at social media will most likely have heard about this devastating disease over the last few weeks. Cutaneaous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRVG), thought to be what we know as “Alabama Rot”, is a condition affecting the skin and kidneys of dogs. It was named after the location of the first recognised cases, Alabama in the USA. Cases have been seen in various parts of the UK, with skin lesions on the lower part of the limbs being the first noted signs by most owners. These skin lesions look like ulcers and can also be seen in the mouth. Usually about 3-7 days later, signs of kidney failure can be seen, such as increased thirst, vomiting, lethargy, dehydration, collapse and even death. However, some dogs do not develop kidney disease. Dogs may go on to develop anaemia and other blood cell changes.

It is not known what causes CRVG. We know that it affects various breeds, of varying age, sex or bodyweight. It is thought to be more prevalent between November and June, but this is not confirmed. The seasonal nature has meant that some people suspect an environmental cause, however the truth is that we do not know.

Diagnosing CRVG is difficult as a certain diagnosis can only be made at post mortem. However, we can become suspicious based on the types of skin lesions and blood test results. If you notice any skin lesions on the lower limbs of your pet, it is advisable to have them checked by a vet. If we are concerned, we may suggest blood tests to look further, however these blood tests may not show any changes in the early stages of disease. Many dogs with CRVG do not survive despite intensive treatment, but for those who do, early treatment is vital. Please bear in mind, there are many skin diseases that can look like CRVG and indeed many more common causes of kidney failure, so please be reassured that CRVG is rare.

Recently, there have been rumours that CRVG has been in our region. We would like to reassure you that no confirmed cases have been seen in our region. There has been a lot of concern in recent weeks about mud being part of the cause of CRVG. There currently is no certain evidence of this, however it is never a bad idea to clean your dog’s coat and skin thoroughly following a walk in muddy areas.

In summary, CRVG is rare, not well understood and we do not know the cause, however if you suspect your dog may have CRVG, it is vital that you seek veterinary advice immediately as prompt care gives the best chance of survival.