How to spot Alabama Rot

Alabama Rot is a disease that causes damage to a dog’s blood vessels and the kidney. It is a mysterious disease which is hard to identify and sadly, very difficult to treat.

Since 2012 in the UK there have been nearly 100 confirmed, over 20 unconfirmed and at least 35 suspected cases of Alabama dog rot in dogs.

There has been some speculation that walking dogs in particular areas of the countryside may be a contributing factor, but the Forestry Commission has yet to warn of any specific sites being dangerous, reassuring dog owners by saying “Many thousands of dogs are walked in the countryside every day and it is important to remember that only a very small number of dogs have been affected.”

You cannot prevent your dog from contracting the disease, but there is some evidence that it is seasonal, with most cases appearing between November and June.

It is thought the disease spreads from muddy and wooded areas – dog owners who do walk their dogs in these places are advised to wash off any mud as soon as possible, and of course, keep close control of their dogs at all times to monitor where they go.

The first sign of Alabama Rot is skin sores that have not been caused by a physical injury. These sores can present as lesions, swelling, a patch of red skin, or may be open and ulcer-like. The sores are most commonly found below the knee or elbow or occasionally on the stomach or face. Usually, this will cause localised hair loss and the dog will begin licking the wound. These lesions will be followed – between two and seven days later – with symptoms of kidney failure: reduced appetite, fatigue, and vomiting.

Affected dogs will also develop signs of severe depression, loss of appetite and vomiting, accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys.

The best outcomes seem to be achieved by catching it early and the animal being taken to your vet.

It is vital that you understand the problem and know what to look out for, should your dog come into contact with it, as time plays a large part in successfully treating the disease.