Furunculosis in dogs

Furunculosis, which is also known as a boil, is referred to as a disease caused by the inflammation of a Staphylococcus aureus bacteria. Since its causative agent is this specific genus of bacteria it is also known by the name of “staph. Infections”. Through the examination of the content leaked from the lesion, it is observed that in addition to Staphylococcus species, Pseudomonas is also present sometimes. Any organism suffering from this infection mostly carries bacteria in the region and thus may have to deal with this disease often. Several animals can get infected by it, especially humans and dogs. Furunculosis in dogs is one of the major concerns for the owners as it is untreatable and difficult to manage.

Thus one can get infected if comes in contact with an inflicted organism. It is characterized by the localization of the inflammation especially around the hair follicles and affecting subcutaneous tissues but the infection can also occur on the hair follicle present anywhere other than the scalp. Moreover, small abscesses and lesions are formed around the hair follicle.


Overlying erythema and edema are also observed beneath the lesions. The furuncle has an appearance of reddish raised part focused around the hair follicle, which oozes out pus on rupturing. It can grow to a size of 2 inches and can result in scarring too. Although it can affect any part of the body, yet face, neck, buttocks, and thighs are more vulnerable in humans and interdigital space, the anal region in dogs.

It usually starts looking like a pimple but soon starts to get hard and forms pus inside. Pain is at its peak when the bump is close to rupturing and usually get considerably less painful after drainage. Pus is formed as the result of the White Blood Cells (WBCs) fighting the invaders that cause disease. When the raised bubble burst due to the pressure it releases the dead WBCs.

The recognition of the causative agent and the diagnosis is done mostly by testing the drainage that is obtained from the abscesses. Physicians mostly can diagnose it by simply observing the affected zone. Diagnosis also involves the differentiation of furunculosis from other similar complications such as carbuncle. Carbuncle is nothing but an infected zone with several Furuncles having multiple infected hair follicles. It is usually accompanied by fever and chills. Moreover, the inflammation site has many openings for drainage of the inner content having bacteria.

Everyone can be infected by this disease, but some diseases might lead to this condition. For instance, people suffering from immunosuppression would tend to develop such abscesses more often. AIDS, severe burns, chemotherapy, different inflammations, sickle cell anemia, and many other diseases flare up the chances of developing furunculosis due to compromised immune systems. Moreover, some diseases may cause decreased wound healing like diabetes and extra dry skin like eczema. These diseases can also trigger furunculosis.

If this condition is left untreated then it may result in the disturbance of the systemic functioning of the body.

Treatment of furunculosis

Treatment includes many options including tropical ointment, surgical, adjunctive, and internal medicine. Your physician may recommend you using some good tropical cream to keep this situation at bay. Internal medicines including antibiotics and antibacterial drugs are introduced inside the body to tackle the disease effectively. Moreover, one of the most ancient and practiced ways is to surgically drain the contents of the furunculosis bump. Bleach baths and proper cleaning is included in the adjunctive way of treating abscesses. For the bleach baths, a quarter or a half cup of bleach can be added to the bathtub before washing up.

Furunculosis in other animals

Furunculosis not only affects the human but also many other animals like fish, dogs, and other mammals. Moreover, it is not restricted to the face, neck, or localized zones. Dogs can encounter this disease manifesting itself in different regions including the interdigital web as well as around the anal area.

Furunculosis in fish

One can prevent encountering such a situation by taking special measurements concerning cleanliness, gentle cleansing of the wounds, keeping wound area and infected zones covered to avoid exposure to bacteria, avoiding contact, warm water baths, and not using personal items.

Furunculosis in dogs

furunculosis fistula in dogs is a chronic and inflammatory disease that can result in ulceration and other complicated situations and wounds in dogs.Furunculosis in dogs Its types are divided on the basis of the location of the infection. Some of the types are as follows:

  • Nasal furunculosis in dogs
  • Eosinophilic furunculosis in dogs
  • Acral lick furunculosis in dogs
  • Anal furunculosis in dogs
  • Interdigital furunculosis in dogs
  • And many more.


Anal furunculosis in dogs

Furunculosis at the anal region in dogs can result in ulceration and severe inflammation. Perianal furunculosis in dogs is the same as other animals, having raised hard bumps with the formation of pus inside. Being in the anal region might irritate the dog, especially while defecating. It mostly affects the middle or old aged German shepherds but it is not restricted only to this breed. The following breeds also suffer from this issue commonly:

  • Irish setters
  • Collies
  • Old English sheepdogs
  • Labradors
  • Bulldogs
  • Spaniels

But studies have said that 80% of the cases are reported in German shepherds. The symptoms and manifestation of this disease make it quite similar to Crohn’s disease in humans. Both diseases result from the over-activation of the immune system. Some part of the immune system is compromised for such an over-activity of the other part.

Furunculosis in dogs can be known or suspected by the licking of dogs at their hind ends.

Symptoms of Anal Furunculosis in dogs

The infected animal suffers pain while defecating. Moreover, a foul odor is prominent relating to the area close to the genitals and anus. Moreover, fur there also gets dirty due to drainage of the pus and blood from the nodules. Affected skin is reddish and sored looking from outside. The inflammation is extensive and might spread to the ulceration level. Weight loss and irritability are also seen in most of the cases of furunculosis in dogs. Dogs might bleed while defecating and commonly lick their rear parts. They might feel uncomfortable sitting casually and show uncomfortable movements.

Causes of Anal furunculosis in dogs

An increased number of sweat glands and immune system overactivity usually results in this severe situation. Exposure to the high concentration of bacteria results in the overactivation of the immune system in that region and thus infection formation begins. A particular reason for this disease isn’t yet known, but its occurrence is relatively more common in dogs with low tail cartilage and broad tail base. Such a condition increases the humidity and air doesn’t have access to this region. The anal zone has fecal bacteria that burgeons in such conditions and might cause the inflammation of hair follicles and glands. Diarrhea complicates the situation further.


It can be diagnosed by simple observation by a vet. Sometimes some sedation or anesthetic is used to make the dog comfortable so that proper observation of the ulceration and inflammation can be done in addition to the cleaning of the region.

How to treat furunculosis in dogs

The first option that the vet discusses regarding this disease is through medicines and drugs. Drugs having antibacterial capacity shrink the wound and heals the inflammation. If there remains any hint of the wound then it is regularly cleaned and care taken owing to the chance of a relapse. Cyclosporine is the most common pharmaceutical compound used for this disease with a combination of others. If this doesn’t work then a surgical option is considered and lesion and furuncles are taken care of manually by rupturing and cleaning. Other drugs that suppress the immune system can also be effective.

Once the disease is diagnosed and treatment is started, regular cleaning, checkups, appointments with vet, testing of samples, and examination of the afflicted area are necessary protocols. In cases where inflammation is too complicated to be controlled by the medicines, the surgical procedure is used to tackle the menace. Drug therapy is quite successful in the case of furunculosis and more than 90 percent of the cases have shown a significant improvement following the administration of medicines.

The point to consider is that none of the treatments provides 100% recovery and a chance of relapse is always there. Moreover, treatment is a bit difficult due to the vulnerable location which is always exposed to different bacteria. As far as surgery is concerned, it might damage the nerves.

Hydrotherapy is used at home to relieve the situation. People direct the water pipe to the affected area twice a day. Keeping the water lukewarm with normal pressure is suitable for this purpose. This has shown effective results in rendering the disease from spreading and healing.

There are some risks that one should be aware of while going for treatment. Treatment can result in slight weight loss, molting, digestive problem, scarring, infection due to surgery, relapse, and healing complications. Thus long-term therapy with controlled symptoms is necessary to tackle this menace. Owners need to be vigilant and active to keep the symptoms under check. I this disease goes untreated then it might spread to such an extent that it becomes impossible to treat it.

interdigital furunculosis in dogs

interdigital furunculosis in dogsThe development of furunculosis in interdigital space in dogs is also quite common and usually referred to as an interdigital cyst. Other symptoms are exactly the same as the furunculosis, with tissue swelling. Just the localization is different and nodules form on the interdigital web of the paws.

Some breeds are more vulnerable to get interdigital furunculosis because of the brisk small hairs in between the webbing of the digits in the paws. Moreover, some injury on the digits can also lead to such situations since limbs are used constantly in weight-bearing. It spreads quickly enough into one or more nodules that are hard and purplish red. These nodules sometimes rupture to release bloody pus. This disease mostly affects the dorsal side of the paw but it doesn’t have any restriction regarding the site of infection. Since the nodules are quite painful or irritating especially while moving, dogs might lick or bite them often. It might also reoccur due to the presence of free keratin in the tissues.


Diagnosis is usually done by the vet just by observation and does not usually require anything more than a clinical examination. Foreign bodies, atopic cysts, injury caused lesions are common symptoms to diagnose this condition. Some needle test, smear test, and hair trichograms are used to confirm the presence of inflammatory liquid culture inside the lesion.

interdigital furunculosis in dogsInterdigital furunculosis in dogs treatment

Treatment mostly includes tropical systematic therapy with several accompanying instructions to heal quickly and or future reference. The vet usually advises to keep the paw as clean as possible and using some topical antibacterial cream. Moreover, hair scissors are mostly advised to use instead of clippers or electric blades.

If the medicine course to be applied is antibiotic, then make it sure to complete the course. A short course will increase the chances of relapse.

Interdigital furunculosis in dogs causes

There can be different causes for this disease including hypersensitivity, metabolic disease, poor nutrition, unhygienic living, injury or trauma, extra dry skin, atopic dermatitis, food reactions, weight-bearing, altered weight-bearing, viral infection, compromised immune system, environmental factors, and parasites.

Read other interesting articles as Vitiligo diet: Vitiligo treatment at home

Ending note on furunculosis in dogs

Basically causes and symptoms are the same in every type of furunculosis but location can be differentiated. Careful behavior with an equally maintained lifestyle is requisite to keep the situation under control. Not only this but regular appointments with the vet are also necessary for the hygiene of the dog.

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