While some dog owners might have heard about the dangers of a flesh-eating bug called Alabama Rot, others may be unaware of the life threatening disease.
Once believed to only thrive in cold and wet environments, fresh fears have arisen regarding the bug, as it appears that dogs are still suffering from the disease in the UK heatwave.
For pet owners whose number one priority is keeping their furry friends safe, this is everything you need to know about Alabama Rot.
What is Alabama Rot?
Alabama Rot is a disease which targets a dog’s blood vessels and their kidneys.
Country File describes it as “a mysterious disease which is hard to identify and sadly, very difficult to treat.”
The disease was first observed amongst greyhounds in the American state of Alabama in the 1980s. More recently, it was first found in the UK in 2012 and since that time, cases have been reported across the UK.
While it first only affected greyhounds, Alabama Rot has been confirmed to affect all different kinds of breeds, regardless of age, sex or weight.
The Alabama Rot Research Fund (ARRF) says, “The disease works by causing damage to blood vessels of the skin and kidneys.
“Tiny blood clots form in blood vessels which block them and can lead to damaged tissue.
“Some dogs develop these clots in the kidney, which can lead to severe organ dysfunction and ultimately, kidney failure.”
The symptoms to look out for
The first sign of Alabama Rot that you’ll need to look out for are skin sores which have not been caused by a physical injury.
These sores can present as:
LesionsSwellingPatch of red skinAn open, ulcer-like wound
You’ll find these sores most commonly below the knee or elbow of your dog, but they can also occasionally be found on the stomach or the face.
The ARRF also advises to keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
Loss of appetite or a reluctance to eatJaundice, so discolouration in your dog’s eyes, gums or nostrilsVomiting or gaggingKidney failure - although this only occurs in a minority of cases, if this does occur, it is usually fatal
What should I do if it think my dog has Alabama Rot?
If you think your dog may be suffering from Alabama Rot, you should take them to the vet immediately.
How to prevent your dog from catching it
The ARRF says, “The cause at this time remains unknown but investigations are ongoing, an environmental cause for this disease is considered possible but it has not been proven with testing to date.”
While the exact cause of Alabama Rot is still unknown, there are steps you can take to minimise your dogs chances of contracting the disease.
Country File says, “It is suspected the disease spread from muddy and wooded areas - dog owners who do walk their dogs in these places are advised to wash off any mud as soon as possible, and of course, keep close control of their dogs at all times to monitor where they go.”
This article originally appeared on our sister site Edinburgh Evening News