Why it's wise to avoid extremely muddy woods and fields  

The majority of dogs so far infected with Alabama Rot seem to have one thing in common – they had all been walked on muddy...

The majority of dogs so far infected with Alabama Rot seem to have one thing in common – they had all been walked on muddy ground. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

As I write this, splinters of rain are once again hitting the window.

It’s been a familiar scene this winter, one of the most miserable and wet ones we’ve endured for quite a while. 

And, while looking at some photographs printed in a national newspaper of some extremely muddy dogs making the very most of being outside, I was reminded of a potential hazard for our mucky pups. 

Although the name ‘Alabama Rot’ conjures up images of some swamp in the Deep South of the States, it actually relates to a deadly dog disease that, although rare, can be contracted here in the UK. 

The term ‘Alabama Rot’ was first used in the 1980s in reference to some greyhounds that developed skin ulcers and kidney failure in the state of Alabama. 

It was first reported here in Britain back in 2012 and has a 90 per cent death rate. Alabama Rot causes sore skin, ulcers and, within days, this leads to kidney failure. 

Frustratingly, not much seems to be known about this nasty condition but it’s thought that dogs get infected from mud on their paws and legs.

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The majority of dogs so far infected seem to have one thing in common – they had all been walked on muddy ground. 

Some websites claim that certain breeds are more susceptible to the diseases, breeds such as Labradors, springer spaniels and border collies.

However, these are also just the kind of energetic dogs - with equally energetic owners - who would enjoy muddy woody rambles. 

Cases have been reported in Devon and last year a dog from Budleigh Salterton sadly died from it. 

Now, I don’t want to alarm dog owners around the Bay as I want to stress this is still an extraordinarily rare disease but, during the winter - when this disease seems to be most prevalent - and when it is very muddy, maybe it would be wise to avoid the extremely muddy woods and fields.  

Vets also advise washing your muddy pets down as soon as you get home. 

Vets4Pets have a brilliant resource - and a map of reported cases so you can check your area - and it includes all you need to know about this dreadful condition: www.vets4pets/alabama-rot