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What can I do to protect my dog against Alabama rot?

More cases are reported in the autumn and winter so it's time to be extra vigilant, says vet Tony Buckwell

Gundog anxiety

Q: Is it true that Alabama 
rot is most prevalent in the autumn and winter? If that is the case, is there anything I can do 
to protect my dog?

A: We refer to this disease as CRGV (idiopathic cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy). It was first recognised in the UK in 2012-2013
 in dogs walked in the New Forest. 
It has been reported in many other parts of the country since.

Affected dogs present with skin lesions and acute kidney failure. Post-mortem examination has revealed microscopic changes in the kidneys that were almost identical to those reported earlier among greyhounds in the US affected by 
a disease, which was popularly known as Alabama rot at the time.

Kidney failure

The skin lesions appear as 
a swollen patch of red skin or 
a defect like an ulcer, generally — 
but not exclusively — below the knee or elbow. They can also be found in the mouth, or on the tongue. Over the subsequent two to seven days affected dogs can develop clinical signs of kidney failure, which can include vomiting, reduced appetite and tiredness. Though the majority of affected dogs have died or been put to sleep due to acute renal failure, aggressive veterinary treatment has enabled a proportion of dogs to recover. The cause of the disease remains unknown.

Reported numbers in UK low

Research is being carried out to try to discover more about the risk and spread of the disease and so 
far it seems there are more cases reported in the autumn and winter. 
I should emphasise, however, that the total numbers of reported cases in the UK have been relatively low and that skin lesions and kidney failure in dogs are much more likely to be due to other causes.

Wash your dog

Without knowing what causes this disease, it is difficult to advise on prevention. Washing the dirt off your dog, especially after being walked or worked in woodland, would seem sensible, and be vigilant because early recognition and aggressive management of this disease are crucial. Speak to your vet if you are concerned about your dog. TB