Do you ever notice small red bumps on your dog’s feet? Do they constantly lick or chew on their feet? These are possible signs that your dog has interdigital cysts. In this blog, you’ll learn about the causes, symptoms, and treatments available for this condition. 

What are interdigital cysts in dogs?

Interdigital cysts are lumps or lesions that can grow between your dog’s toes. The most common cause for these unwanted bumps on your pet’s paws is infection. This condition is also known as interdigital furunculosis or follicular pododermatitis.

These cysts between the webbing of your dog’s feet can be inflamed and burst with blood and pus. When this happens, walking can become difficult and painful for your dog. 

What are the signs of canine interdigital cysts?

If you suspect that your dog has interdigital cysts, here are some of the most common signs you should look out for:

Redness & Constant Itching

Your dog’s paws may turn reddish from the growth of the infection. This condition can also be itchy and cause your dog to scratch their feet constantly. As the infection grows, the cysts become itchier for your dog. When this happens, your dog will try to relieve itself of the itch by licking or chewing its feet.

Loss of hair

The more your canine chews and licks his paws, the more hair fall can occur in the infected area. This exposes the forming cysts and can make the condition worse.

Blood & Discharge

Another common symptom of interdigital cysts is fluid discharges of blood and pus. The discharge happens since the cysts build up under the skin of your canine’s feet and can burst due to scratching or putting pressure on the affected foot.

What causes interdigital cysts?

One of the most common causes of these cysts is a bacterial infection on the hair or skin near the foot of your dog. The hair can irritate and infect their skin and lead to cyst formation. Here are some other factors that can contribute to your pet developing this condition that you should be aware of:

Constant licking of the paws 

Dogs that often lick their feet are more prone to developing a hair-related infection. When your dog licks its paws habitually, it can cause hair to push into the skin, causing inflammation and the development of cysts.

Massiveness

Heavier dogs tend to put more weight into their paws when walking. This puts pressure on the feet, especially on the webbings, creating friction and irritating the skin even more.

Physical Difficulties

Dogs that have existing physical conditions such as arthritis are more prone to developing interdigital cysts. This happens because they exert more pressure on their feet than usual, which can then cause irritation and swelling. Feet abnormalities of your dog can also be a factor in developing interdigital cysts.

Poor Living Conditions

Walking on bare cages and rough terrain can promote ingrown hair in your pet’s feet and cause unwanted irritation. 

Breed

Some dogs are more predisposed to getting this condition given their physical characteristics, such as coarse hair and wide feet. These breeds include:

  • English bulldogs
  • German shepherds
  • Labrador retrievers
  • Boxers
  • Great Danes
  • Mastiffs
  • Chinese Shar-Pei
  • Basset hounds

How can you treat interdigital cysts in dogs?

If you suspect your dog has interdigital cysts or its paws are bleeding, take your pet to the vet immediately. Early detection will help your dog recover more quickly and prevent the infection from getting worse. 

Your vet can first get hair samples, skin scrapes, and skin testing to know the extent of the condition. They will also check if your dog has any allergies or other infections that may be the culprit regarding the cysts. Make sure to keep an accurate record of your dog’s medical history, recent behavior, and living environment. This information will help your vet make a proper diagnosis and treatment for your dog.

There are three common alternatives for canine interdigital cysts treatment: medication, surgery, and laser therapy.

Antibiotics & other medicine

Your vet may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication and antibiotics to help against any infection. The medicine can also help relieve swelling from the feet. In many cases, medication can be long-term, depending on the severity of the cysts. Make sure to follow your vet’s instructions to help your dog get better faster. These medications can also help reduce the amount of pain of your dog and make them walk and run normally.

Surgery

For more severe cases of interdigital cysts, your vet may opt to perform surgery on your dog. Most dog insurance plans can cover the costs of these procedures, so getting one for your pet shouldn’t be a problem.

Additionally, surgery can get rid of the cysts from the paws or remove the web between the toes to remove the cysts completely. However, this procedure won’t stop your dog’s habit of licking or chewing on their feet. You can do preventive measures to minimize the onset of future complications related to your dog’s feet. 

Laser therapy

Other than surgery, your vet can remove the infection by vaporizing the cysts using a carbon dioxide laser. This procedure may need multiple sessions and proper post-operative care like regular changing of bandages for a better outcome. 

Home treatments

In addition to the procedures mentioned above, here are some things you can do at home to help:

  • Ensure your pet wears protective footwear: This can help prevent your dog from licking and chewing his feet during the healing procedure.
  • Maintain a healthy weight: Losing the extra pounds can help reduce the pressure on his feet. This also helps lessen the irritation to his feet.
  • Revamp his home: If your dog is usually in a cage, consider allowing your pet to stay or sleep on an even and smooth part of your house. 

To learn more about different conditions that your dog can have and how you can treat them, explore the TLPOInfo blog.

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