Following a conversation a client had with a local dog on leadwith a local gamekeeper in Berkshire, the worrying disease Alabama Rot has been brought starkly to our attention. The gamekeeper had just lost his young working Labrador to the disease and a second dog remains under the care of the vet on a drip and very poorly. The young dog had a seizure which prompted the immediate consultation with specialist vets but, tragically, suffered a second major seizure at the surgery had to put him down.

Alabama rot or idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) to give it its full name is a relatively new disease in the UK although it was first identified in the US in greyhounds in the 1980’s. The disease initially presents with redness, swelling, lesions or sores which can present anywhere on the dog’s body but are most commonly seen on the paws, lower limbs, mouth and tongue. Along with the onset of the lesions or sores, the dog may start vomiting, will suffer loss of appetite and become severally lethargy. The specific cause of the disease is unknown and there is no vaccine or recognised cure for it so it is vital that all sitters, owners and carers of dogs be very aware of the possibility of this disease and take swift veterinary action should you have any concerns at all. Untreated this disease progresses rapidly and can result in complete kidney failure and the death of the dog although, it must be stressed, not in all cases. Current mortality figure are 70/80% on confirmed reported case studies.

Alabama Rot causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which ultimately block the vessels and lead to permanent damage to all affected tissue. Prompt action from your vet may prevent further damage and you should be aware that this disease, although not common (103 recorded cases in the UK to April ‘17 ), has been cropping up in over 27 counties throughout Great Britain and affects all breeds. Kidney failure can occur as little as 3 days after the initial symptoms appear but, as with all diseases, some dogs react more rapidly and can be affected more quickly although the average from recorded cases is somewhere between 1 – 10 days.

From records collated on the disease it appears that 93% of all cases have occurred in the autumn/winter period from November – May and there is thought to be some link, albeit not proven, to muddy, woodlands areas. Current advice is to wash your dog clean of all mud after he/she has been out and to dry him/her well and to be active in preventing your dog from scavenging while out. Vets researching the disease have still to conclude if it is a bacterial or parasitic infection and there is a charity currently working to collate data, research and information. Their web site is www.arrf.co.uk.

So to summarise

Avoid wet and boggy woodland walks when exercising your dogs
Wash off legs, feet and muddy tummies on return from exercise and dry to prevent your dog from over grooming
Check your dog over daily for any unexpected redness, swellings, sores or lesions ( i.e. those that are unexplained and not the result of a known injury or skin complaint) and, if you have the slightest concern, contact your vet IMMEDIATELY for help
Be diligent and spread the word to fellow dog lovers
With prompt veterinary attention many dogs do recover so be vigilant
This disease only affects dogs.

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