How to Spot It & How to Stop It

muddy dog

Alabama Rot is a very unpleasant, and often fatal, disease whose origins and causes remain largely unknown.  To date no cases have been reported in East Lothian, but understandably dog owners are concerned by the recent outbreak.  So we've put together some information to help you spot the signs and to help keep your dog protected.

What is Alabama Rot?

It's an unpleasant disease that affects dogs and attacks the skin and kidneys – often resulting in fatal kidney failure. 

It was first spotted in Alabama, USA in the 1980s, and the first cases in the UK were reported in 2012. Since then dogs of different breeds, size and ages have become victims.
Vets remain unsure what causes Alabama Rot; opinion is divided over whether it’s caused by parasites or bacteria, and some US reports suggest it could be linked to E.coli, but there has been no evidence for this in any UK cases.
More cases are reported between November and May than in the summer months, suggesting that dogs are more likely to catch Alabama Rot in cold climates or wintery conditions.


What are the Signs? 

  • Skin sores or lesions: Sores and lesions that are not caused by any known injury are the most obvious sign to look out for.
  • They can either appear as patches of redness, swelling, or open and ulcer like. They're most likely to appear below the knees or elbows, or on the underside of the belly (the parts of the body that are most likely to come into contact with mud when out walking).
  • High fever
  • Lethargy or generally appearing unwell
  • Vomiting or retching

It’s worth noting that these symptoms can also belong to other conditions. Therefore it's important to visit us as soon as you can so we can diagnose the condition and start the appropriate treatment.​



How Can you Help Protect your Dog?

Although Alabama Rot has grown in the UK over recent years, cases are still comparatively rare. Nevertheless, it is wise to be vigilant and take precautions.

  • Avoid afflicted areas. Veterinary experts have observed that exposure to an affected animal often leads to a dog developing the disease. Be aware of cases across the country so you can avoid areas that are affected.
  • Avoid dirty muddy areas. Try to take your dog to clean, well-kept grassy areas to exercise, and try to keep them in your sight when out walking.
  • Wash off mud. After a walk, particularly if they’ve been rolling around in the mud or if the weather has been bad, wash your dog thoroughly and pay close attention to the areas most commonly affected by Alabama Rot – the snout, the legs and the underside of the belly.