If you are a pet parent, you are probably familiarized with this ailment. However, there are many questions and myths around interdigital cysts in dogs. Are they chronic? Can they be prevented? What are their symptoms?
Interdigital cysts in dogs
Interdigital cysts, a.k.a. interdigital furuncles, are lumps or nodules that can grow between a dog’s toes. They are usually red and itchy, and they tend to appear in the front paws.
Are interdigital cysts painful?
Yes, these lumps can be painful to your dog, especially when walking through uneven surfaces. Dogs will usually try to make the pain better by licking or chewing the cysts, but the effect is quite the opposite. These cysts can rupture and cause an infection, so they need to be taken care of by a professional.
If you suspect your dog might be suffering from interdigital cysts, there are some symptoms that usually can confirm or dismiss the diagnosis:
- Hair loss (due to the excessive itching and scratching)
- Blood in their toes
Remember these are large nodules in between dogs’ toes, so you probably can spot them as well.
Causes of interdigital cysts in dogs
To put it in simple words, interdigital cysts are dilated hair follicles that developed into nodules. There are several factors that contribute to their appearance, so it’s important to be acquainted with them.
Bacterial infection: This is one of the most common causes for cysts. A bacterial infection on the skin or hair near your dog’s foot can cause irritation and cyst formation.
Obesity: The extra weight puts pressure on the toes and webbings, and can cause friction and irritation.
Joint conditions: Just as it happens with obesity, joint and hip conditions can apply extra pressure on your dog’s feet, contributing to interdigital cysts formation.
Hair coat: Some dogs are more prone than others to experience interdigital cysts. Sometimes, a short hair coat can create the perfect environment for these lumps to develop. Some of these breeds are: English Bulldogs, German Shepherds, Boxers, Labradors, Great Danes, Shar Pei, etc.
Itchy and licking behavior: Anxiety can lead to an obsessive licking behavior, and this can cause infections, wounds, and interdigital cysts.
- Environment: Depending on where a dog lives, interdigital cysts might be more prone to occur. Rough terrains or cages, together with ingrown hairs and foreign bodies trapped in dogs’ webbings can cause these lumps to appear.
Once a dog has developed interdigital cysts, it’s important to talk to your vet and assess the cause of appearance, to prevent it from happening again.
Treatment of Interdigital cysts in dogs
If you suspect your dog has interdigital cysts, it is important to take him to the vet asap since an early diagnosis can prevent the infection from spreading further. Depending on the severity of the condition, there are several treatments available.
Your vet might prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatories (sometimes even long-term), which will help fight the infection, reduce the swelling, and ease the pain. Another possible treatment is laser therapy, which will vaporize the cysts until they are removed completely. Last but not least, surgery is usually the best option, especially in more severe cases.
However, you should take into account that cysts can reappear if the external factors which originally caused them are not removed. There are some things you can do at home to prevent this ailment, like getting your pup doggie footwear to prevent paw chewing and licking, and help him maintain a healthy weight. However, your vet will specify the steps to take.
You should never try to remove the cysts by yourself, no matter how small they are. You can severely worsen the infection and end up hurting your dog.