What is Alabama Rot?

Rachel Greene-Taylor
Written by: Rachel Greene-Taylor
Posted on: 17 June 2016

Alabama Rot is a deadly dog disease that has started to spread across the UK. It causes sores on the dog’s skin, and can lead to acute kidney failure.

The disease, also known as CRGV (cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy) first emerged in the US in the 1980s, and it was thought to only affect greyhounds. But now we know it affects all dogs, no matter what breed, age, size or weight.

The disease made its way over to the UK in 2012, so remain vigilant and know the signs so you can spot them early.

Is my dog at risk of Alabama Rot?


The cause is unknown, so every dog is potentially at risk.

Since 2012, 78 dogs in the UK have contracted the disease, 14 since January 2016. In the past year the disease has killed 13 dogs.

Alabama Rot seems most dominant in Dorset, the New Forest, Wiltshire, Sussex and Surrey. It’s been suggested the disease might be seasonal, as most cases have been confirmed in winter.

What are the warning signs of Alabama Rot?

Firstly, look out for skin lesions. There’s often some swelling, or a patch of red skin that can be open and ulcerated.

Sore skin is also a danger sign – especially below the elbow or knee.

Within 2-7 days, you’ll start to see outward signs of kidney failure – reduced hunger, vomiting and tiredness

It’s important to remember that if your dog has skin sores or kidney failure this doesn’t necessarily mean it has Alabama Rot – there are a number of other diseases it’s more likely to have.

Can I prevent my dog getting Alabama Rot?

It’s very hard to take precautions as there’s currently no known cause. However, exposure to toxins and common bacterial infections have been ruled out.

Some believe the disease is picked up on muddy walks, so it might help to wash your dog when you get home - but this still hasn’t been proven.

Dogs that spend time together seem to get the infection, but it’s unknown if this is because they’ve been walked in the same areas, or because the disease is infectious.

I’m worried, should I take my dog to the vet?

Yes.

If your dog has skin sores then head straight to the vet. It might be nothing, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.

What’s the prognosis?

Out of all of the dogs that get skin lesions due to Alabama Rot, around 25% go on to get acute kidney failure. For the other 75% that get skin sores without kidney failure, the prognosis is excellent.

However, once the dog gets kidney failure, around 80% die.

Last words on Alabama Rot...

It’s important to remain vigilant and to have pet insurance in place, just in case your dog has contracted the virus and needs treatment.

If you have any concerns at all, heading straight to the vet is your best course of action.

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