Alabama Rot! Should Dog Owners Avoid Muddy Areas? Here are The Facts
Dog owners and dog lovers will be filled with fear about 'Alabama Rot' this week, after seeing or reading the sensationalist coverage by the BBC, and by leading national newspapers such as The Mirror and Daily Mail. This life-threatening problem has no known cure, is spreading, and the media are urging dog owners to avoid 'muddy' areas. This winter's wet and muddy weather seems to narrow it down to walking your dog on a motorway or dual carriageway... which is probably higher risk!
To try and give some balance to the media's excessive, 'THEY'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!' coverage, I thought it might help if I detail some of the salient facts, particularly for those dog owners around Stevenage where we run our professional dog walking service .
- Alabama Rot's proper name is Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy CRGV.
- It started in Alabama and only affected greyhounds
- Since 2012, it has appeared in the UK and can affect all dog breeds
- It is a serious 'disease' with no known cure
- The first signs are skin lesions, usually in the lower legs but sometimes around the belly, or around the mouth. The lesions can look like bites, sores or wounds.
- Between 1 and 9 days after developing skin lesions (usually 4-5 days), affected dogs can develop kidney disease leading to kidney failure and death
- Dogs that develop the kidney disease have a high fatality rate of 80%+
- So far there are NO proven links to any causal factors - not mud, not diet and not specific areas of the country
- Vets still do not know if it is an infection, a toxin, a disease, or an auto-immune reaction to something else
Please do watch the factual video about Alabama Rot produced by Adrian Caunter, the Head Vet at Vet's Klinic (see right). Up to now, we have been very lucky in the East with few cases. In fact, within a 20 mile radius of Stevenage, where we do our professional dog walking, there has only been one confirmed case at Much Hadham. There is a map (click here) showing all reported cases throughout the UK and the local area map below shows the only confirmed case within 20 miles of Stevenage:
Symptoms of Alabama Rot in Pet Dogs
As the Head Vet, Adrian Caunter, says in his video: 'The has been a lot of conjecture in the media about causes, but so far there is no proof of any links at all'. He goes on to say that while washing dogs paws after walks is unlikely to do any harm, there is at least one case where a dog which had its paws carefully washed after walking, nevertheless went on to catch the disease or infection.
Two very helpful pieces of advice he gave are firstly, to not worry too much in that it is not as widespread as the media make out. Secondly, carefully check your dog each day for signs of lesions. It does seem that the earlier a dog receives treatment for kidney failure, the more likely it is to survive. You can examine images of lesions on the Alabama Rot website and I would invite worried dog lovers and dog owners to sign the Government petition to get DEFRA to fund research on this infection/disease. At present, the Government are relying on private vets to do the research and the only way to change this is to get over 100,000 signatures to force Parliament to discuss the issue. DEFRA funding and research will enable us to find out more quickly whether Alabama Rot is a disease, infection, toxin or an auto-immune reaction, and it will better advise us how we might protect our much-loved pets from its dangers.