Alabama Rot in Dogs

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 5/14/20242-4 minutes
Woman smiling face-to-face with dog

Alabama rot is a rare disease that affects dogs of all sizes and ages. It is typically found in greyhounds, hunting and working dogs and was first discovered in Greyhounds in Alabama in the 1980s, but cases dwindled out quickly. Read on to learn more about Alabama Rot disease, including its causes, symptoms and treatment.

What is Alabama Rot?

Alabama Rot, also known by its scientific name, Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is a disease that damages the blood vessels of a dog’s skin and kidneys. It causes small blood clots to form in the vessels, leading to skin ulcers and kidney damage. It’s still very rare but, unfortunately, has a very high mortality rate. 

What Causes Alabama Rot in Dogs?

Due to the low number of cases, there has been little research done on Alabama Rot in dogs. The cause is unclear, but some cases are thought to be related to E. coli bacteria.

Alabama Rot Symptoms

Alabama Rot symptoms you should be looking for include:

Skin lesions: These may appear as just a small sore or a patch of red skin, though they can also be open and look like an ulcer. More specifically, there can be skin ulcers or erosions of the distal limbs, ventrum, muzzle and oral cavity. These can be superficial lesions to full thickness of the skin and can usually be found below the elbow or knee. Occasionally, they can be found on the face, chest or abdomen. 

Kidney failure: In less than one week, kidney failure develops after the skin lesions appear. For more information on kidney failure in dogs, check out our guide.

Diagnosing Alabama Rot in Dogs

If you suspect that your dog has Alabama Rot, you should take them to be checked out by your vet. If they just have a skin lesion but are otherwise well, it can be tricky to establish whether Alabama Rot is present. This is because most skin lesions will not be due to Alabama Rot, and there’s no specific diagnostic test for this disease as the cause is unknown. However, that being said, skin lesions can be an early warning sign, and it’s important to get any concerns checked out. A biopsy of the skin can also be performed, and your vet will likely ask you questions about where your dog has been and will rule out general injury and other skin conditions. 

If your dog is unwell or showing any of the signs that may suggest kidney failure, it’s imperative that you take them to the vet immediately for treatment. Although the mortality rate is very high for this disease, speedy veterinary treatment has been successful in helping some dogs survive suspected cases of the condition. 

Treating Alabama Rot

Unfortunately, there is no specific treatment for Alabama Rot disease. In dogs that have been diagnosed with the disease, managing the skin lesions and kidney disease becomes the priority. 

If your dog develops kidney failure, treatment is more complicated. It’s likely that your dog would need to be hospitalized and kept on supportive care. 

Preventing Alabama Rot

With the cause of Alabama Rot unknown, it’s always best to seek veterinary care early. As experts have identified a link with walking in muddy areas, here’s a list of things to do to reduce your dog’s risk of contracting it: 

  1. Wash off any mud as soon as possible – we don’t know if this will prevent the disease, but it will at least make it easier to observe any lesions.
  2. Check your dog’s skin regularly and call the vet if you find any lesions. 

It’s important to note that Alabama Rot in dogs is still relatively rare, and it’s a disease that’s still being researched. 

For more expert tips on your dog’s health, explore our dog health symptoms and issues and articles. 

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