Alabama Rot has caused a lot of panic and concern across the United Kingdom, this deadly disease has been around since the 1980s, so should we be concerned? Interestingly, DEFRA, to my knowledge, and The Animal and Plant Healthy Agency, have not published any support or material in regards to this disease, instead there is lot online and social media. Which may leave quite a few people questioning the disease?
What is Alabama Rot?
The disease is actually called Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), but is being referred to as Alabama Rot.
Rephrase: What is CRGV?
CRGV is a disease that cause damage to blood vessels by causing clots, which then damages the surrounding tissue. These result in skin lesions, which look like bites, sores, wounds or ulcers. CRGV can create these clots in the kidneys, this then leads to severe organ damage and possibly kidney failure.
Whats the problem?
Unfortunately, there seems to be no understanding and very limited research about the disease itself, in regards to whether it is a bacteria, virus or fungi. Without this understanding, it makes it difficult for owners to prevent it, and veterinarians to treat it. For example, let’s look at worming:
Your dog develops a tapeworm, which causes your dog to have excessive hunger and a bloated tummy. You then take your dog to the vets and the vet would provide a successful treatment, e.g. worming tablets. To then prevent your dog from the parasite, you would provide monthly wormers.
Alabama Rot Research suspects there is a seasonal fluctuation, with most cases of CRGV arising between November and June. They also suspect that the disease is spread and more prevalent in woodland areas that have lots of mud! Therefore, owners have been advised to wash their dogs feet and to avoid these areas.
However, research by Fiona Macdonald believes there is a link between CRGV and the bacteria eromonas hydrophila.
‘My theory is that the organism infects the dog’s skin and then the toxins travel to the dog’s kidneys, causing failure. This bacteria can also affect fish by producing toxins to enter the body, can be found in fresh or brackish water, which are usually found near common dog walks’
Will this mean a vaccine, cure or treatment?
Unfortunately not, further research is to be investigated to ensure Fiona’s theory is correct and to collect more data with dogs with CVRG. But it is promising!
As a dog owner, i understand how confusing and stressful it is when a deadly dog disease is potentially on your doorstep. As a scientist, i also know if we stick to our objectives , be observant and record then we will see results. To help you all, i have created 5 easy steps to help you prevent CVRG:
- Wash your wellies
If you have been for walk in the muddy woodlands with the potential of CVRG, then you could be spreading the disease by infected wellies. Whether it is a bacteria, fungi or virus, there is nothing to say it won’t stick to your wellies, and if you you don’t clean them then you will spreading the potential disease. I have an old spray bottle at home, i used diluted water with Milton and poured in the bottle. When i get home from a muddy walk i will wash the mud off my wellies and spray with the Milton disinfectant. Or for a pet safe disinfectant, SAFE4. This will take you 5 minutes to complete.
2. Wash your dog’s feet
Now, i know this can be a chore or if you don’t have time to wash your dog’s feet, then simply don’t walk your dog in risky woodlands! Instead there is lots of beautiful beaches and coastal paths The Cornish Dog have some great walks for you to explore, so check them out. When i wash Rosco’s feet, i place a long deep tray in our front garden and fill it with warm water and hibiscrub, and simply get Rosco to walk through it, i then use moist towels to take the excess mud off. Also, hibiscrub is an antibacterial solution so it also help with any cuts or scratches! Alternatively you could use an old washing up bowl and lure your dog to put both feet in with a treat, but this isn’t as easy as it may sound! There is always Pawwash, i have not tried this product, but it is a quick and easy way to wash your dog’s paws. It could also be recreated with some large plastic bottles and a great way to recycle!
3. Try not to let your dog drink from muddy woodland water
Whilst walking in the mud could absorb CVRG into the dog’s skin, the disease could also infect your dog by ingesting the disease by drinking the water. This can also be tricky if your dog does not listen to you or understand the word ‘no’, the best way to handle this situation is to make your self more fun than the water. The common things i do with Rosco to get his attention is to show him an amazing toy, start dancing, use ‘what’s this’ cue or dig out a tasty treat at the bottom of my pocket! Whatever, will get your dog’s attention, use it- just nothing negative please. You could also put your dog on lead until your clear of muddy water!
4. Avoid areas with confirmed cases
If there is confirm case, then avoid that area and find a new dog walk that is low risk of CVRG, these can include beaches, coastal paths, dog exercise fields and local dog parks. Click here to find if there is a confirmed case of CVRG near you.
5. Observe your dog
As dog owners, we have an obligation to look after pets, this includes daily monitoring of your dog’s body and fur condition, behaviour and recording any ill-health. In terms of CVRG, you want to be looking for any skin lesions around the paws and legs, vomiting and ulcers in the mouth. 1So, if you don’t do already, you can keep a small diary for your dog’s health to track any changes, especially in terms of ill-health and behaviour.
Until the disease is eradicated,it is best to be as preventative as possible and aware of any new confirmed cases. We’ve been informed by the Alabama Rot Research that funding and research has been commenced.