Alabama Rot - What dog owners need to know

Author picture Jessica

Does your dog love scampering around in the woods? We’re guessing they do!

But walking your dog in muddy woodland areas has been linked to Alabama Rot, a mysterious but potentially deadly illness that has claimed the lives of over 100 dogs in the UK since 2012.

As dog owners it’s vital to be armed with knowledge about this worrying disease, what to look out for and what to do if you’re concerned.

Here is a guide on Alabama Rot and how to protect your pet so you can carry on enjoying your country walks.

What is Alabama Rot?

It’s a disease that starts with a cut or lesion, usually on the lower half of the leg but also on the body, face, tongue and mouth, and causes damage to the kidneys and in some cases, failure. It was first found to be affecting Greyhounds in Alabama in the 1980s, which is where the name comes from.

What should I look out for?

A sore on the skin that can’t be traced to an injury. It first appears as a swelling, or a patch of red skin, or an ulcer. You may see your dog licking or chewing the area. Being subdued and lack of appetite are signs too. This factsheet has more information.

What should I do?

If you’re concerned, go straight to your vet. Acting quickly is key and the best chance of recovery is through early and intensive treatment at a specialist centre. Vets at Anderson Moores are leading research into the disease and are asking owners to contact them if they suspect a dog has Alabama Rot.

What steps can I take to prevent it?

As the cause is still unknown, it’s difficult to advise on how to prevent it. But David Walker of the Anderson Moores research team has said you may wish to consider washing your dog if they become wet or muddy on a walk.

What is being done to find a cure?

The Alabama Rot Research Fund has been set up and in May 2017, the first ever Alabama Rot conference took place. Vets from the UK came together to discuss the condition and plan to work together and collate

information. They also compared it with similar conditions in humans. Their focus is to work out why it happens and find effective treatment. Only 15-20% of animals currently survive.

Has there been a case near me?

You can check on this map to see where cases have been reported. It’s a good idea to check your local area, and if you’re away with your pet, any new areas you might be visiting.

What else can I do?

Make sure anyone who walks your dog or cares for them is aware of Alabama Rot too and what to look out for. Have a chat with your Pawshake sitter or dog walker too and keep in touch with other members of your local doggy community so you know of any cases or potential dangerous walks.