January 2020: Our Must-read Guide to Alabama Rot

Our dogs bring so much magic to all our adventures. That’s why it’s such a concern when we hear news of something that has the potential to cause them harm. This is the case with Alabama Rot, a disease that has been a serious concern for dog owners since it was first identified in Britain in 2012. Recently, there have been new developments in the spread of the disease, and the information available to dog owners, so we’re providing an Alabama Rot update to reflect this. Read on to find out more.

Alabama Rot - West Highland Terrier with a really muddy face

How common is Alabama Rot in dogs?

There’s no denying that cases of Alabama Rot within the UK have been on the rise. In 2012 there were just six reported cases, compared with 52 in 2018, and there have been 191 cases in total since 2012. 191 cases over eight years, however, is only a tiny proportion of the number of dogs estimated to be living in the UK. So the likelihood of your dog contracting the disease is relatively small. And the increase in the number of cases might not actually be because more dogs are picking up the illness, but due to vets becoming better at diagnosing it.

Should I be worried about it?

Just because the incidence of Alabama Rot is fairly small compared with the overall canine population, doesn’t mean you don’t need to be aware of the disease! If your dog is unlucky enough to contract the illness, the consequences can be very serious, with only 20-30% of cases responding well to treatment. It’s therefore important to be able to recognise the symptoms of Alabama Rot quickly, in order to give them the best chance of recovery. The Royal Veterinary College this year announced a new discovery in Alabama Rot treatment, using Therapeutic Plasma Exchange. As such a recent development, however, it requires further research.   

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot gets its name from the state in the USA and the place where the pet health disease was first identified in greyhounds. It is a disease that causes damage to your dog’s blood vessels and kidneys. It can cause unexplained sores and swelling of the skin, most often on the paws, legs, body, and face or in the mouth. Alabama Rot does not discriminate between the age and breed and could potentially occur in any dog.

What causes Alabama Rot?

Alabma Rot - terrier walking

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of mystery surrounding Alabama Rot in dogs and this includes the cause. Various causes have been suggested, including E.coli-produced toxins, parasites and bacteria, but none have been proven. It has also been documented that the majority of cases occur between November and June, often in dogs who have been walked in muddy areas of woodland. Again, no definitive connections have been made to any specific woods. Recently, scientists have suggested that working dogs and hounds might be more prone to contracting the disease, but they admit that more research needs to be undertaken in this area.

Where is it most prevalent?

Alabama Rot has been spotted across the UK, but predominantly in England. It has presented itself for the most part in western and southern parts of England, although some cases have also been reported across the north of England. Areas surrounding Manchester and Bolton have seen an increase of reported cases during the past two years, and the New Forest area has also seen quite a few incidents. Check out this Alabama Rot map to find out exactly where the disease has been discovered since 2012.  

What are the symptoms of Alabama Rot in dogs?

The first signs might be that your dog has ulcers or sores that appear on their skin. It might be worth heading straight to a vet as they should be able to tell you if these kinds of lesions are something to worry about. If your dog starts to show signs of loss of appetite, tiredness or vomiting, there could be a chance that kidney failure is beginning. This will usually come a few days after the first signs show on the skin. As with any illness, the faster it is treated, the higher the chances of survival.

How can I stop my dog picking it up?

Alabama Rot - two dogs on an autumn walk

As nobody knows the real cause of Alabama Rot, it can be quite difficult to know how to avoid it in the first place. The best thing to do might be to ensure you check your dog for any abnormalities on a daily basis, paying close attention to any lumps and bumps. Also, keep an eye out for the symptoms listed above and take action as quickly as possible if you do spot them. If there is a link between the disease and muddy areas, then it might be wise to ensure you thoroughly wash any mud from your dog when returning home from walks. Speak to your vet if you have any other questions or would like some advice.

Is Alabama Rot contagious?

So much is yet to be discovered about Alabama Rot, but so far there has been no evidence of the disease spreading between dogs. It’s also often asked whether it can spread from our canine friends to humans and felines, but there haven’t been any cases of Alabama Rot in cats, people,  or any other animals other than dogs, so it shouldn’t pose a risk.

Our dogs often love an adventure, especially when there are plenty of muddy puddles and fallen leaves to play around in, meaning that winter could be the ideal time to get out and about with your pup! Being aware of the symptoms of Alabama Rot could be vitally important when it comes to spotting the illness early and getting it dealt with. It could also be important to consider taking out some insurance for dogs, helping to protect you should the unforeseen happen! At The Insurance Emporium, our new Dog Insurance policies include up to 30% discount* and cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000^! Take a trip to The Insurance Emporium today to find out more!

*The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies or one premium payment on annual policies.

^Vet’s Fees cover up to £8,000 is available on Lunar Monthly Lifetime Gold policies.

This post was originally published in November 2018 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. We make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. We will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. We will not be liable for any loss, injury or damage arising from the display or use of this information. This policy is subject to change at any time.

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