Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV)
Alabama Rot, or cutaneous and renal glomerular vasculopathy (CRGV), is a disease which we actually know very little about. It often presents with sores or lesions on your dog’s skin, and can sadly be followed by death by renal (kidney) failure. The disease attacks the blood vessels in the skin and kidneys, leading to ulceration and (in the kidneys) organ failure.
The exact cause of CRGV is unknown, although as more cases are identified between November and May, this may suggest a seasonal pattern. This is not scientifically confirmed, however.
What breeds of dog does Alabama Rot affect?
Any breed of dog can be susceptible to Alabama Rot, of any age and any sex.
What to look for
Keep an eye out for any unusual skin lesions, swellings or sores which appear on your dog. These are far more likely to be caused by other things than CRGV, however it is always a good idea to get them assessed by your vet sooner rather than later. It is not true that they will only be found on the legs – in practice they can appear anywhere on the dog’s body.
The skin sores often develop a few days before signs of kidney failure are seen (which can include, but not limited to; tiredness, vomiting, a lack of interest in food, and a change in drinking habits). However, it has been known for dogs to only show skin sores with no blood changes in Alabama Rot. So, just because a dog develops sores caused by CRGV does not necessarily mean that they will develop kidney failure. But when kidney failure does develop, it is fatal in approximately 85% of cases.
Can Alabama Rot be prevented?
Because the current cause of Alabama Rot is unknown, there is no specific cure. Some recommend washing your dog after a walk and avoiding muddy areas.
The best thing you as a pet owner can do is keep an eye on your dog for any changes to their skin (and this includes the areas in the mouth/ears) and take them to your vet if you spot any changes. This is because the sores and lesions caused by CRGV look very much like wounds from bites, stings, and cuts caused by other things. And just because your dog develops a lesion cause by CRGV does not necessarily mean they will develop kidney failure.
Remember that Alabama Rot is very rare, and any changes are more likely to be caused by something else. However, being a vigilant and responsible dog owner may help save your dog’s life.
Find out more about Alabama Rot
British Veterinary Association – Alabama rot – behind the headlines (where this article was condensed from)