Alabama Rot

Hello again pet parents, I hope this blog post finds you all in fine fettle and rude health. One of the things we pride ourselves on at Saint Leonard is keeping our clients apprised of current trends and health issues that may affect their pets.

You may be aware of something called Alabama Rot, which affects dogs but isn’t currently thought to affect Cats or Rabbits. This has recently hit the headlines again with a case being reported in Cheshire, although it seems to be most prevalent on the south coast of the UK, most notably around The New Forest.

This disease gets its name from where the first case occurred, Alabama in the USA; it was initially identified in the 1980s. Alabama Rot is also known by its clinical name idiopathic Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV). In layman’s terms this means that its cause is unknown and that it affects the skin and kidneys, causing clots to form in an area that filters out toxins from the body.

Alabama Rot affects all breeds, ages, and both sexes of dogs.

So what should dog owners be looking out for? Common symptoms include, but aren’t limited to

* Skin Lesions, Ulcers or Sores that haven’t been caused by any known injury

* Lethargy

* Loss of Appetite

* Jaundice/Discolouration in the Eyes, Gums or Nostrils

* Vomiting


The sores normally occur on the legs (below elbow level), body (normally underside of belly), in the Mouth, or on the Tongue. Dogs lick at these and this is one of the first things you may become aware of.

Cases of Alabama Rot seem to be more prevalent in Winter and Spring with more cases being reported between November – May than between June – October.

Seasonal Canine Illness is differentiated from Alabama Rot in that although it causes Vomiting, Diarrhoea and Lethargy there are NO skin lesions. Obviously we would always urge you to contact us immediately if your dog becomes at all unwell, so that we can take blood and urine (wee) samples to establish an accurate diagnosis.

As with any acute (sudden) illness, the key is getting treatment started as soon as possible; the quicker a pet is treated, the better the outcome. Swift treatment is definitely the key to survival rates with Alabama Rot, at present time around 9 out of 10 dogs fail to survive this disease. By the time obvious signs appear, such as Vomiting, Lethargy and loss of appetite which can all indicate acute Kidney injury it can be too late to save the animal. So please keep a watchful eye on your beloved pet.

A good habit for all our dog owners to get into is checking your pooch every day for lumps and bumps; also check their noses and tongues for any signs of sores. If you do find anything and are concerned, then by all means give the surgery a call for advice.

Currently there is no Vaccination against Alabama Rot due to the unknown cause of it, and present treatment involves vigorous management and monitoring of any Kidney disease once a diagnosis has been established.

In the Midlands we are lucky to see relatively few cases of this disease, but please stay vigilant and informed. Although a link has not been established, a lot of the cases occurred in dogs that had walked in wet/muddy environments, so it might be an idea to wash and dry your dog if they have been walked in this type of place. If nothing else, it will stop muddy paw prints becoming the new pattern on your carpet!

Until the next blog; stay safe, be well and be happy 🙂