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Alabama Rot: The muddy menace and the hope for a cure

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Alabama Rot, or Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy, is in the news at the moment, understandably worrying dog owners. However, though it seems like a new issue, this dangerous condition has been known for over thirty years and unlike other serious illnesses that dogs are routinely vaccinated against, such as ParvoDistemper,  Hepatitis, and Rabies, there is currently no vaccination for it. 

The disease – which can cause acute kidney failure in dogs of any age, size, or breed – was first spotted in Alabama greyhounds in the 1980s, but the cause of Alabama Rot remains a mystery, and if a dog contracts Alabama rot, there is only a 10% chance it can be saved. Thankfully, the condition remains comparatively rare. 

However, we do know that it is often linked to wet and muddy places where harmful bacteria or toxins might be, with vet practice Anderson Moores reporting that most cases of Alabama Rot being reported between November to May. This news is concerning for professional dog walkers and outdoor doggy day cares, particularly in winter. 

So, what are the tell-tell signs of the condition?

1. Skin sores or lesions

2. Swelling

3. Red patches or discoloration

4. Skin defects

5. Changes in appetite

6. Increased drinking

7. Vomiting

8. Lethargy

Detecting symptoms early can significantly impact the well-being of the dogs but ensuring dogs are thoroughly cleaned after walks emerges as the most effective preventive measure against Alabama Rot, according to the RSPCA. For dog walkers and outdoor doggy day cares without on-site cleaning facilities, the best advice is to encourage dog owners to take some simple precautions and stress the importance of cleaning their pets thoroughly after walks. 

Meanwhile, a team of scientists at the University of Bristol, led by Dr. Fiona Macdonald, are making significant strides in the search for a cure for Alabama rot, saying their work could lead to better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention for dogs. More on their research can be found here.

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