We have had a lot of queries recently regarding Alabama Rot and how to prevent your dogs from exposure to this potentially fatal disease. At this point this is a poorly understood disease, and I will try and address some of your concerns in this week’s article.
CRGV is a disease affecting dogs caused by damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidney. It causes tiny blood clots to form in the blood vessels which blocks them and can ultimately lead to damage of the affected tissue.
In the skin, this causes ulceration; however, in the kidney it can lead to severe organ dysfunction (kidney failure). The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing.
Over the last few years, more CRGV cases have been seen between November and May than between June and October, suggesting a possible Winter / Spring seasonality. CRGV has not been seen in animals other than dogs. Owners of dogs affected by CRGV have not been affected by this illness.
As the cause of the disease is currently unknown, it is very difficult to give specific advice about prevention. Some vets are currently advising that you wash off your dogs especially after wet and muddy walks, but there is no clear evidence yet that this is of any significant benefit. The disease does not appear to be localised so avoiding high risk areas is also difficult.
It is therefore of vital importance that you monitor for early signs of the disease and contact your vet immediately should you have any concerns.
Symptoms can include sores or swelling of the skin (particularly on the paws or legs but also the body, face, tongue or mouth) and these are often the first sign of this disease.
Be aware that lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, stings or bites, so if in doubt it is always best to seek veterinary advice.
In some cases the disease progresses to kidney failure, and this can be fatal even with veterinary intervention. If your dog develops a skin lesion and your vet is suspicious that it may be CRGV they will be able to advise you on the most appropriate management.
Your vet will decide if your dog needs antibiotics and if the area needs covering. Dogs developing kidney failure (or acute kidney injury) will need much more intensive management and your vet may recommend referral to a specialist in these cases.
There are many ways in which owners of all dogs can get involved to raise awareness of CRGV and to participate in and fundraise for ongoing research. The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) is a National charity aiming to raise awareness and funds for Alabama Rot (CRGV) research: www.arrf.co.uk. The latest update on their site dated September 2018 tells us that the total number of confirmed cases in the UK is 169 since 2012. 46 cases have been reported in 2018.
Should you have any concerns about your pet’s health or more specifically Alabama Rot in dogs please call St Vincents Veterinary Surgery on 0118 979 3200 to arrange an appointment with one of our team.
Michael Morrow owns and runs St Vincents Veterinary Surgery, an independent practice providing personal care to pets in and around Wokingham.