Oliver Gonzalez came to Heene Road Vets from Anderson Moores where he was working as in intern at Veterinary Specialists. There he helped the team that are coordinating the research on this devastating disease. He has therefore seen more cases than most vets -so we asked him about the disease & what practical steps you can take as a pet owner to try to reduce the risk of your dog contracting this potentially fatal disease.
CRGV (Cutaneous Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy), or “Alabama Rot”, is a disease producing blood clots in the blood vessels of the skin, mainly in the distal extremities (leading to damage in the affected tissue with ulceration and necrosis) and the kidneys (leading to acute kidney failure). Any age, sex, or breed of dog can be affected. More CRGV cases have been seen between November and May than between June and October, suggesting a possible Winter / Spring seasonality.
The vascular damage affecting the small vessels of the skin and kidneys in dogs has not been reported as being associated with any other canine disease. The typical lesion in the kidneys is reported as a thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA). Thrombotic microangiopathies are characterised by inflammation and damage to vascular endothelium, leading to widespread formation of micro-thrombi and the consequent multi-organic failure.
The cause at this time remains unknown (but chief suspects are toxins from bacteria or an environmental trigger).
The main clinical signs are redness, sores or swelling of the skin (especially on the paws or legs but also around the abdomen, face, tongue or mouth).
The lesions in CRGV can be difficult to distinguish from cuts, wounds, or bites and there is no definitive test to diagnose it. It is possible to have just the skin changes caused by CRGV, and if this is the case and the dog does not develop kidney problems they will go on to recover fully.
Oliver’s advice is that as the disease is thought to be picked up on the paws & legs on muddy walks always:
- Wash off woodland mud
- Check for signs of CRGV
- If in doubt call the vet.
If your dog develops a skin lesion, your vet will decide the most appropriate management. If they feel it is a skin wound they may prescribe antibiotics, and decide if the area needs to be covered. Some forms of painkiller (called non-steroidals) may be best avoided, due to the potential kidney failure just in case it is Alabama Rot.
Dogs developing acute kidney failure will need more tests (blood sample, urine sample, Blood pressure measurements) and more intensive treatment at the surgery-with intravenous fluids & further medication. Unfortunately cases developing kidney failure have a poor prognosis.
Further information can be found at: https://www.andersonmoores.com/owner/CRGV.php
Cases of CRGV have been reported from across many different counties in the UK & maps detailing confirmed cases can be seen at: https://www.vets4pets.com/pet-health-advice/alabama-rot/