In the News – Strange canine disease – Alabama Rot. 

This unexplained disease is being covered once again by the media after a new report which gathered information from 53 Veterinary surgeries across the UK confirming that between November 2012 and March 2014, 54 dogs were infected with this mysterious illness and 24 had to be euthanized.  Since last March another 22 dogs have died suffering with symptoms believed to be connected to Alabama rot and nine others have said to have successfully recovered from their symptoms.

The report published by the Veterinary Record is available to view on line and summarises the details of thirty new cases.  You can read the report here: http://veterinaryrecord.bmj.com/content/early/2015/03/13/vr.102892.full

Commonly referred to as Alabama rot, Idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV) affects the skin and renal system resulting in skin lesions and kidney failure.  The cause of the disease is completely unknown and remains a mystery to animal experts, but seems to occur in dogs that walk in the countryside, particularly woodland. There have been reports of dogs suffering from symptoms of the disease in woodland areas of Cornwall, Surrey, Nottinghamshire, Worcestershire and Norfolk.

The disease has been well known in the United States since the 1980’s where it was thought to predominantly affect Greyhounds.  However, since 2012 there have been a number of cases of the disease affecting other breeds such as Cocker spaniels, Jack Russell terriers and Labradors.  Many of these cases seem to be amongst dogs that frequented the New Forest and as a result the Forestry Commission put together an information sheet for dog walkers concerned about the disease.  In the past, the Commission also erected warning signs to dog owners but subsequently removed them because it could not be proven that the dogs were picking up the disease in woodland.

Symptoms. 

Early signs of the disease are skin lesions which appear on the legs, chest and abdomen area.  They may appear as an isolated swelling, or patches of red or ulcerated skin.   Affected dogs also present with acute tiredness and reduced appetite as well as vomiting which indicates the onset of kidney failure and sometimes death.

Treatment. 

Early intervention with aggressive management and monitoring for kidney failure can mean a good outcome for some dogs, indeed many dogs have survived.

If you suspect your dog’s symptoms may be associated with CRGV it is important to seek veterinary attention as soon as possible.

However, the disease does only affect a very small number of dogs and most skin problems will not be related to Alabama rot.  In the same respect, kidney disease is more likely to be caused by something other than CRGV.

Speaking to my own local vet he thought that media reports were blown rather out of proportion and suggested that dogs are infected by the disease if they already have cuts or lesions on their body where infection can enter. However, Holidays 4 Dogs likes to keep up with stories and information that may be of relevance to dog owners who like to be informed about all aspects of their dogs care.

Sources: Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, Hampshire; The Forestry Commission; The Telegraph; The Mail online.

A. Gordon.