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Alabama Rot: What Pet Owners Need To Know

Pet owners in the UK have likely already heard about the deadly disease affecting man’s best friend. In 2014, several dogs became fatally ill with an illness which was later identified as a condition known as Alabama rot. This condition was previously unheard of in the UK, and vets were further confused by the fact that it had only been seen in Greyhounds in the US, while many different breeds were affected in the UK.


The condition has made headlines again in the UK after the number of dogs affected by the condition surpassed 100. The first Alabama rot conference has been held in the UK in response to the threat. Vets are now struggling to identify the causes and look for a cure.

What is Alabama rot?

It is a fatal condition with a fast progression that is thought to be caused by a bacterial infection. It is thought that E.coli bacteria releases toxins into the animals renal system which leads to catastrophic kidney failure. It was first discovered in Greyhounds in the 1980s in the United States, hence the name, but it is not thought to be breed-specific. Instead, the condition seems to be location specific, and many cases happen after walking dogs in muddy woodland area.

What are the symptoms of Alabama rot?

The first sign of the disease is lethargy and a loss of energy, followed by lesions on the skin. These lesions may look like ulcers, sores or bite marks. Dogs may also lose their appetite and vomit as the condition progresses. One of the scariest aspects of this disease is how quickly it progresses, with around 80% of cases being fatal after just a few days. It has been described as a pet owner's worst nightmare.

What can I do to avoid Alabama rot?

There is currently no cure for Alabama rot, but it can be treated with some success if it is caught early enough. There are also things pet owners can do to avoid high risk areas. Check the latest up-to-date Alabama rot maps to find out where cases have already been reported. One of the high risk areas are muddy woodland areas during the winter and spring, likely a result of the muddier conditions. If your dog does track through mud, you should wash them thoroughly as soon as possible and pay close attention to their legs and underbelly. Check your pet’s skin regularly for sores and lesions, and take your pet straight to the vet if you see anything out of the ordinary.