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Heatwave blamed on spread of flesh-eating dog rot

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The mercury is expected to rise this week to a record-breaking 38 degrees in London, and pet owners are being warned to be extra vigilant after a summer bloom of Alabama Rot.

By Nick Whittle , 24 Jul 2019

Instances of the disease, as yet incurable, have been reported this month in Cornwall, Devon and Essex, writes The Sun. The newspaper opines that the spread of the disease is boosted by the increasingly hot weather.


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After the introduction of Alabama Rot into the UK from the United States in 2012, the number of canine fatalities remained low. But by 2015, British vets saw a four-fold increase in canine patients exhibiting symptoms. However, it was not thought of as a seasonal disease because it affected dogs in winter and summer.

Now some experts suggest the recent outbreak may be caused by the hot weather. That being said, the main catalyst of the recent bout is more likely to be due to pet owners taking more frequent walks outdoors, and an abundance of groundwater.

Alabama Rot

The disease was first encountered in the early 1980s in Alabama, US. It reached the UK in 2012. Although the cause of Alabama Rot still eludes scientists, The Independent reports on a ground-breaking study by a British vet who is “on the cusp of discovering the cause”.

Hampshire practitioner Dr Fiona Macdonald believes the cause of Alabama Rot, otherwise known as Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy (CRGV), is related to a bacteria found in fish. She suggests that a dog's contact with contaminated water gives bacterial toxins a chance to enter its body.


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Alabama Rot cannot be cured. It initially affects the skin of the dog, especially on its face and feet; the toxicity eats away at the skin causing sores and ulcers. Eventually, the dog suffers kidney failure and almost certain death.The disease proves fatal for nine out of ten dogs that contract it.


Due to the educated suspicions of Dr Macdonald – that the disease originates from contaminated puddles and muddy ground – pet owners are advised to avoid these areas where possible. Further precautions should also be observed:

  • Wash your dog’s feet and face after a walk even if they are not dirty
  • Check your dog daily for sores or lesions
  • Check for signs of the dog's unusual tiredness and fatigue 

If you suspect your dog has contracted a nasty illness, waste no time: contact a vet straight away.


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