Interdigital Furunculosis in Dogs

Interdigital furunculosis in dogs is a health condition that affects dogs. It comes from a deep bacterial infection caused by short bristly hairs on the webbing between the toes, which makes the dog uncomfortable when moving around.

Your dog may act normal, but suddenly, it starts licking or chewing its feet. It is not wrong to rule out that it suffers from this condition when this happens.

If you’ve just noticed interdigital furunculosis in your dog, don’t worry.  We have detailed information about this condition. You’ll also learn about the causes, symptoms, and possible treatments.

Read on to find out! 

What is Interdigital Furunculosis?

Interdigital Furunculosis is when deep pyoderma lesions or lumps grow between dogs’ toes. These lesions can be single or multifocal and are commonly caused by infection. The nodes that form an inflammation between the toes can burst into pus or blood. 

When this happens, walking becomes difficult and painful. Dogs that suffer from this severe condition are at risk because when the foreign particles or bodies get in the embedded hair shafts, they prolong the infections. 

If you have a canine friend with interdigital furunculosis, be sure to seek treatment with immediate effect. 

Now that you are familiar with interdigital furunculosis, what causes this condition?

women looking into feet of dog

What are the Causes of Canine Interdigital Cysts?

There are many ways in which interdigital cysts develop. Some of the causes include;

Bacterial Infection

Topping the list of the most common cause of dog interdigital cyst is a bacterial infection. This is due to the short bristly hairs on the webbing between the toes. These hairs can irritate the skin and form cysts. In addition, the short hair shafts are forced back into the hair follicles during movement.

Demodicosis

This condition is where Demodex canis mites inhabit the sebaceous glands and hair follicles. The mites are part of normal canine skin if they are small in number. But if they occur in large numbers, it can lead to interdigital cysts.

Canine Atopic Dermatitis

Another condition that can cause recurrent interdigital cysts is canine atopic dermatitis. When the lesions reappear, it might be because of reactions to foreign bodies. However, it can also be a sign of underlying issues like skin disease, leading to infections. This condition is characterized by the distribution of skin lesions and chronic pruritis.

Other Causes of Interdigital Cysts

Apart from demodicosis, canine atopic dermatitis, and bacterial infection, other causes of interdigital furunculosis in dogs are as follows:

Constant Licking of the Paws

Dogs that often lick their paws may develop a hair infection. When your dog licks its paws constantly, hair will go back into the skin and form a cyst.

Dog Toy Terrier licking paw
Physical Challenges

Another cause of interdigital cyst in dogs is physical difficulty. Some dogs suffer from physical challenges like arthritis. Such dogs are prone to develop interdigital cysts. This is because they produce and use excess pressure on the feet.

Size of the Dog

The dog’s size majorly contributes to the formation of a dog toe cyst. Massive dogs put more weight on their paws when walking. Too much weight puts more pressure on the webbings, causing friction. When there’s too much friction, swellings form on the webs.

Breed

Some dogs are prone to get this condition due to their physical characteristics. For instance, dogs with too much hair or wide feet can form swellings on the leg because they are exposed to direct terrain.

How is Interdigital Furunculosis Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of dog Interdigital Furunculosis depends on clinical signs. The most common ones include foreign bodies, traumatic lesions, neoplasia, and follicular comedone cysts. For this reason, vet officers may perform hair trichograms, impression smears, and fine needle pirates. 

All these tests will help in confirming the presence of the disease. If the condition is found, treatment starts immediately. Sometimes, recurrent or unusual lesions are excised for histopathological examination. 

Canine Interdigital Furunculosis Treatment

After discovering dog paw infection between toes, veterinarians recommend starting treatment. Early detection will enhance easy treatment and prevent further infections. The first thing that your veterinarian will conduct is skin tests, skin scrapes, and hair samples.

Before conducting further tests, the vet will check for allergic reactions or infections. If the lesions are not severe, your dog’s vet will recommend antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication. These medicines relieve pain and swelling. While administering the drug, follow your vet’s instructions to speed up the interdigital furunculosis treatment process. 

Severe cases may require surgery to remove the cysts from the web. This procedure is painful. Therefore, you need to take care of your dog and watch for further complications. On the contrary, your dog might not stop licking the paws. So, find solutions to minimize the licking and chewing of the feet to reduce the recurrence of the cyst.

Besides medications and surgery, your vet might use laser therapy to remove the cysts. Here, the vet vaporizes the cysts utilizing a carbon dioxide laser. This type of therapy involves culture and susceptibility because the infection is deep. 

If the lesions are multifocal, they will need long-term therapy. If you notice recurrent interdigital furunculosis, it might be inappropriate antibiotic therapy. Therefore use the correct dosage and complete the treatment. Also, you need to change the bandages regularly to prevent infections.

Home Remedies

If you can’t afford the medical treatment as soon as possible, there are a few home procedures that can help:

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Weight plays a vital role in reducing or blocking the formation of cysts on dog paws. If your dog has extra weight, find ways to reduce the excess pounds. Doing this will relieve pressure and irritation on the feet.

Revamp Your Dog’s Shelter

Treating this condition goes all the way down to the dog’s shelter. If your dog sleeps in a cage, provide your pet with a smooth surface to sleep on. This will enhance comfort and reduce the formation of lesions. 

Give Your Pet a Protective Footwear

Footwear is essential since it will prevent your dog from licking and chewing its feet. In addition, this act will reduce irritation and the formation of lumps on the dog’s paw.

Dog with footwear

What do the Lesions Look Like?

The lesions of interdigital cysts appear as red nodules filled with blood or puds. They are most noticeable on the front paws. When they occur, you will see your dog limping because of pain. At times, they will lick or chew their feet.

Pre-Disposed Canine Conditions and Interdigital Furunculosis

Interdigital cyst in dogs is also caused by predisposing factors such as the thickness and length of the hair. In addition, persistent licking can penetrate the skin’s tissue and cause cysts due to friction.

Other pre-disposed factors include obesity which is the addition of unusual weight. Dog’s excess weight can cause a lot of pressure, thus forming a bump on the dog’s paw. Another factor is spinal disease and gait abnormalities, which develop false pads. The formation of false pads may later progress to cysts.

The Symptoms of Interdigital Cysts in Dogs

The common symptoms of interdigital cysts are as follows;

Redness

When your dog suffers from interdigital cysts, the paws turn reddish due to the growth of infection. In addition, the growths on dog paws may lead to itchy feet as the cyst advances. In the end, the dog will start scratching and licking its feet.

Cysts

When you notice lumps or lesions between your dog’s paws, then they are cysts. The unwanted bumps can cause inflammation and burst into blood and pus.

Itching

Another symptom of interdigital cysts is itching. For example, your dog may scratch its feet constantly. As the infection grows, the cysts become itchier. 

Bleeding

When cysts form, your dog starts scratching its feet. Bleeding occurs when pressure is put on the feet and bursts the lesion, causing blood to flow out of it.

Excessive Licking

Another symptom of interdigital cysts is excessive licking. Licking is a common act in dogs. However, too much of it can be a sign of cysts. The more they lick, the more the hair fall. Loss of hair can cause more infection.

Discharge, Fluid, or Pus

Production of discharge, fluid, or pus is another symptom to watch in your dog. Cysts build up under the skin of the feet. Too much scratching can cause the cyst to burst and produce either discharge, pus, or fluid.

Red Bumps Between the Toes

Closing the list of the common symptoms of interdigital furunculosis is the formation of red bumps on the toes. These bumps form when your dog suffers from too much infection that causes itchiness from the scratching. When the red bumps form, be sure to seek medical attention.

Key Highlights

Dogs are an integral part of our lives. Apart from being great companions, they provide security. But sometimes, they are affected by health conditions such as interdigital furunculosis. 

An interdigital cyst dog has painful lesions on the webbing of the toes.  Most of the time, they are caused by bacterial infection. When you notice this, don’t panic! There are several methods of treatment, such as antibiotics and inflammatory medicines. 

If your case is severe, vets will opt for surgery or laser therapy. But, in the end, your dog will get well and enjoy walking again. 

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