Experts raise alarm as deadly dog disease sweeps UK – here’s how to prevent it

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Dog owners across the UK are being cautioned to remain vigilant for symptoms of a potentially fatal disease that is on the rise.

According to Anderson Moores Veterinary Specialists, there have been 10 confirmed cases of Alabama rot already in 2024, adding to a total of 318 since 2012.

The investigation into Alabama rot by Winchester-based vets has been ongoing and has revealed crucial information regarding its symptoms and preventive measures.

Alabama rot, also known as CRGV (cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy), was initially identified in the United States during the 1980s, primarily affecting greyhounds. However, it is now understood to pose a threat to dogs of all breeds, ages, and sizes.

The disease manifests as damage to blood vessels in the skin and kidneys. Affected dogs often present with skin ulcers, typically on their legs or paws, as outlined by the Royal Veterinary College (RVC).

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These ulcers may also appear on other parts of the body such as the head, muzzle, tongue, flank, and belly, varying in severity from resembling a cut, bruise, or sting.

In severe cases, Alabama rot can lead to kidney failure, with symptoms including lethargy, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, increased thirst, or decreased urination.

The exact cause of Alabama rot remains unknown, although it appears to be more prevalent during the winter and spring months, particularly among dogs frequenting muddy woodland areas.

Reports indicate that multiple dogs within the same household can be affected by the disease, prompting recommendations from the RSPCA to thoroughly wash off mud after walks, especially in woodland settings.

Despite ongoing research, there is currently no specific treatment for Alabama rot, with veterinary care focusing on managing skin lesions and monitoring kidney function.

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Quick action is crucial if symptoms are spotted. However, both the RSPCA and RVC stress that while awareness is essential, there is no cause for widespread alarm. The number of reported cases remains extremely low in comparison to the vast number of dogs walked daily in countryside areas.

The RSPCA say on their website: “The threat is very low, and while there may be an environmental trigger, we can’t confirm that some areas are safer than others.”

Similarly, the RVC emphasised that Alabama rot is still considered a rare condition when compared to other health issues affecting dogs, reassuring owners amidst concerns.

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