Alabama Rot disease is the latest alert for dog owners. However, the disease was first diagnosed in some dogs in Alabama, USA, during the 1980s itself.
This disease creates lesions on the skin and also in the mouth. And, it will cause damage to the blood vessels of your dog’s kidneys and skin. An affected dog in its critical stage of the disease will suffer kidney failure.
It is also called as cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), which rots the flesh of a dog. So, dog owners should take the necessary steps to protect their puppies.
How Common Is Alabama Rot?
Although it was first discovered in Alabama, it was a relatively new disease to many countries, including the United Kingdom.
In 2012, it was first reported in the UK. And, almost 153 cases of this disease have been confirmed between November 2012 and March 2018. Majority of the cases were from England, but it was found in other parts of the UK as well.
But, there are no known Alabama Rot cases in the United States as of now after the Alabama case. So, the Alabama Rot is still a rare disease even though it is well-publicized. There’s also no evidence to suggest that it will spread to other countries.
But, it doesn’t mean that Alabama Rot couldn’t have spread or won’t spread.
What Are The Causes Of Alabama Rot?
Divided opinions remain amongst veterinarians regarding the cause of Alabama Rot disease. A section of vet experts specifies that a parasite is a causative.
Another section of vets states that bacteria called Escherichia coli is the reason for the disease’s emergence.
But, there is no evidence for this case seen in the UK. David Walker, a Specialist in Andersons Moorey in Winchester, Hampshire, says that the research for the cause is still ongoing.
He also reports that an obvious pattern of this disease they can see is linked to seasons. And, the vast majority of cases had occurred between November and March. They also suspect other factors as well.
So, the experts aren’t sure about what causes the Alabama Rot or can’t understand how it spreads. But, they believe that it may contract through water bodies containing harmful bacteria.
Dr. Fiona MacDonald, a veterinarian from the UK, stated that she had spotted the cause of this disease. Dr. Fiona after due research concluded that a bacteria called Aeromonas hydrophilia found in brackish or freshwater is the cause of this disease.
She also specified that the same bacteria affected fish in the water. Dr. Fiona also claims that 27 dogs were notified to suffer Alabama Rot disease. However, the finding is a good indicator but needs more research for clear substantiation.
In the UK, many of the dogs that died from this disease had been walking in muddy woodland areas during the spring and winter months. So, it’s thought that the muddy conditions may also be the cause for it.
What Are The Symptoms Of Alabama Rot In Dogs?
Alabama Rot disease in a dog will be noticeable through certain symptoms.
- Sores or ulcers or skin lesions not caused by a known injury
- Decreasing hunger
A small percentage of dogs also experience –
- Bloody stools
Affected dogs can also develop severe depression, which is accompanied by acute injury to the kidneys. In dogs having this disease, skin lesions are the clear sign to look out for. They often occur either as any of the following.
- A patch of red skin with swelling
- Open wound
- Looks like ulcer
Your dog may also lose some hair around the area where sores occur and start licking the wound. The patches of inflamed skin are commonly found in various areas of the dog’s body like mouth, tongue, legs, paws, chest, and abdomen.
The ultimate symptom is kidney failure, however, which is fatal in most cases and won’t affect all the dogs.
Kidney Failure In Dogs
But, dogs that usually take an average of 3 days from developing skin lesions to presenting symptoms will suffer kidney failure. Kidney failure can also occur from 1 to 10 days after skin lesions develop.
The signs of kidney failure include
- Being sick
- Change in drinking habits
- Lack of appetite
But, keep in mind that skin sores and kidney failure can be caused by other, more common problems. For example, skin sores can develop due to an allergic reaction and kidney issues are often a symptom of the problem in the urinary system.
So, dog owners should act quickly if they spot skin lesions in their dogs. And, it is always advisable to get an expert opinion if their dogs have skin sore and they’re not sure how the dogs got it. Book an appointment with a local vet immediately in such cases.
Alabama Rot Disease Diagnosis
The exact cause of Alabama rot is unknown until today. So, it is much difficult to diagnose the affected dog, unfortunately. The possible signs of Alabama rot may also be concerning.
But, you have to remember that it is a rare disease. Checking the dog, however, for any physical injury/injuries, skin infection, leptospirosis, and other causatives of kidney failure is essential.
And, your dog can get skin lesions combined with kidney failure by a number of other factors.
So, it is advisable to take your affected dog to the vet. He will check your dog’s general health and will ask you questions about when they started showing signs, where they have been recently and will explore any other possible ways your dog may have injured themselves.
The vet will also
- Examine the marks on your dog’s skin and prescribe blood and urine tests to check how well the dog’s kidneys are working.
- Repeat the tests several times over several days to monitor your dog’s condition, even if it seems doing well.
- Recommend for skin biopsy, which will confirm whether the undertaken diagnosis tests are valid.
How Is Alabama Rot Treated?
No vaccine has been found for this illness yet because of the unknown cause. But, there are some treatment options for ailing dogs.
The treatments currently practiced for this disease in dogs include –
- Wound management of skin lesions
- Usage of strong, supportive therapy during the kidney failure stage.
But, the treatment for the disease tends to be successful in only 20 to 30% of cases. Sometimes, changes in the blood results and having knowledge of the types of skin lesions can help the vets to identify the cause for this disease.
But, some vets can spend their whole career without treating a single case.
So, the vets generally suggest that dog owners need to bring their dog at an early stage of this disease. Some reports also state that certain dogs have recovered from this dreadful disease due to detection in the initial stage itself.
Therefore, if you notice that your dog seems unwell or if you see any wounds on their limbs or anywhere on the body, get it checked out with the vet. Early detection and treatment of the disease will deliver the best results.
Research into the disease is continuing with the hope of discovering the cause and creating effective treatments and even a vaccine.
How Can I Prevent My Dog From Getting Alabama Rot?
Generally, it’s hard to prevent a disease for which the cause is unknown. So, no preventive steps exist in order to avoid Alabama Rot disease in dogs until now.
But, some experts believe that the Alabama Rot spreads through muddy walks.
They advise dog owners to avert this disease through washing their dog once it comes home after a walk. Washing also helps to check for redness or sores in your dog.
As a precautionary measure, you can also do the following things.
- Avoid taking your dog out for a walk in an area with a reported case of this disease
- Don’t let your dog walk in the woodland.
Checking your dog for any possible early signs of this disease and seeking immediate veterinary attention in such cases can increase the survival chances. So,
- Be familiar with the symptoms of Alabama Rot
- Check your dog’s body once a day for anything that’s different (sores, lesions, etc.)
- Contact your vet straight away if you have any concerns
But, being aware of the disease and be vigilant is the best prevention method always.
Alabama Rot Disease FAQs
1. Is Alabama Rot Seasonal?
Yes. More cases of this disease have been reported between November and May and then between June and October. So, dogs are more likely to be affected by Alabama Rot in the winter and spring seasons.
2. Can Dogs Survive Alabama Rot?
Yes. It is believed that there have been survival cases of this disease. As of March 2018, only 153 cases of this disease have been confirmed in the UK.
So, the risk of your dog getting the disease is lesser. But, the cause of the disease remains unknown and every dog is potentially at risk.
Also, the only way to confirm a case of Alabama rot is to diagnose the dog’s kidney tissue after it has died. This means that the number of dogs surviving this illness remains unknown.
3. Can This Disease Affect Humans And Other Animals?
No. Alabama Rot seems to have affected only dogs so far. And, there are no known cases of it spreading to humans or other animals like cats or rabbits.
4. Which Dogs Are Most At Risk of Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot can affect any dog irrespective of the breed, age, or size. But, some dog breeds are more prone to it.
- Border Collie
- Cocker spaniel
- English Springer Spaniel
- Flat-coated Retriever
- Labrador Retriever
5. Do Pets Have Insurance For This Disease?
Yes, you can find pet insurance for this rare disease. Many organizations such as Direct Line offers pet insurance with benefits. You will get the following benefits from Direct Line Pet insurance.
- Cover for complementary treatments including hydrotherapy and physiotherapy
- Customizable cover and up to £8000 towards vet fees for each condition
- Up to £1000 for advertising if your dog goes missing
But, it’s important to know what to look for and have pet insurance in place, just in case your dog gets sick and needs treatment.