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Alabama Rot - Symptoms and Prevention

Many of you may have already heard of the feared condition called Alabama Rot which has cropped up in several locations throughout the UK since the late 1980s. Unfortunately, there has been another recent fatal case of Alabama Rot confirmed in the South West. This is after several more confirmed cases have been diagnosed across the country this year.

Alabama rot is a condition that affects the kidneys, ultimately leading to acute kidney failure with a mortality rate of about 90%. The cause of this awful condition has puzzled even the top experts in veterinary internal medicine for years. However, more light has been shed over recent years on the possible causes which has helped us to identify what we can do to try and avoid out pets from contracting it.

Dr. Goldman from Plymouth based home visit euthanasia service, Nirvana Vets, commented ‘The condition is especially common this time of year and so it is important that as pet owners, we know the signs to look out for and what we can do to help prevent it. It is important that if you notice any red skin rash or ulcer, that you book an appointment to be seen as soon as possible to get it checked out as this is the first symptom of Alabama Rot’.

The most common signs are a rash or ulcer with fur loss, particularly on the limbs, paws, belly or face. Approximately 3 days after these skin lesions appear, the kidneys start to fail for which the most common symptoms are lethargy, loss of appetite and vomiting.

The exact cause for Alabama Rot is not fully known but one theory is that Alabama Rot is caused by a toxin that damages blood vessels and cuts off the blood supply to organs resulting in organ damage. There does appear to be a recurring story that dogs that contracted Alabama Rot had recently been walked in muddy woodland areas, particularly in the spring and winter. The South of England also appear to have more cases than other parts of the UK. This is why it’s suggested that we should rinse our dogs off promptly after they have been on a muddy walk.

There is a new pioneering treatment which involves filtering the blood. When started early, this treatment has significantly improved the survival rate. However, this treatment is not readily available in primary care practices and is only available at certain referral centres currently.

It is important to let our dogs enjoy their walks and not to lock them inside in fear of Alabama Rot as it does remain rare. However, it is advisable to take all precautions discussed.

From everyone at Nirvana Vets we wish you and your pets good health and a happy bank holiday weekend.


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