Dogs may frequently lick their feet as a result of boredom. However, if you see excessive paw licking, it may indicate an underlying issue. Furthermore, if redness and rawness are visible between the toes, there could be an interdigital cyst. So, what are interdigital cysts in dogs, and how can you treat them?
Interdigital cysts are not quite cysts but rather inflamed and infected tissue. These form between your dog’s toes. You can choose from many remedies, ranging from compresses to ointments. Plus, the vet can treat these with antibiotics or surgery.
Below, we’ll cover more about interdigital cysts in dogs so you can help your precious pet.
Before you read this guide, “Interdigital Cysts In Dogs: What Is It and How to Treat It,” check out: Sebaceous Cysts on Dogs: What to Expect and How to Treat Them! (2023) and Cyst in Dog’s Mouth: What Is It and How to Treat It! (2023).
What Is an Interdigital Cyst In Dogs?
Interdigital cysts are inflamed and infected tissue in the webbing between a dog’s toes.
Once inflamed, these lesions are furuncles, commonly found on the front feet’s top but may affect all four feet. Due to limited space between the toes, the furuncle ruptures through the skin, leading to a draining tract.
Interdigital cysts, or furuncles, can cause pain and draining tracts among dogs’ toes. Other causes may include reactions to foreign objects, hair follicle infections, or cancer.
Symptoms of Interdigital Cyst
Dogs with interdigital cysts typically exhibit symptoms such as inflamed, reddened skin in the webbing between their toes, which may extend from the bottom to the top of the paw.
These swellings, mistaken for cysts due to their mobility, are deep reddish-purple, hairless, shiny, and measure one to two centimeters. They can rupture the skin and result in a bloody discharge.
Reasons for Interdigital Cyst In Dogs
Interdigital cysts result from hair follicles being traumatized, leading to the enlargement of the microscopic opening of the follicle. Due to limited space to expand, the follicles eventually rupture and release their contents.
The body then considers the released material to be foreign and initiates an inflammatory reaction, similar to the response to bacteria, fungi, or mites.
Excessive weight on the feet, gait abnormalities, or increased webbing are typical factors causing initial trauma. Additionally, the presence of foreign objects in the skin hinders complete healing of the infection and leads to recurrent cysts or furuncles.
Moreover, interdigital cysts or furuncles can also occur by Demodex mites, a type of skin parasite, and canine atopic dermatitis, an underlying skin condition. Therefore, effective treatment involves eliminating the mites and controlling the allergy-causing atopic dermatitis.
Diagnosis of Interdigital Cyst
The veterinarian typically relies on medical history when diagnosing interdigital cysts or furuncles on your dog. The vet then examines the dog’s paws for any discharge and performs a series of skin tests to identify the cause of the initial trauma.
The tests may include:
- Skin scraping
- Examining plucked hairs
- Impression smears
- Culture to rule out other contaminants
Additionally, the vet may perform a skin biopsy to confirm changes to the hair follicle or run blood tests, including hormone levels, to eliminate the underlying disease.
Treatment of Interdigital Cyst In Dogs
Medical therapy involves oral or topical anti-inflammatory medications such as steroids and antibiotics. In severe cases, treatment should be continued for at least four weeks, even after the symptoms improve.
Antibiotics alone may lead to improvement, but you must understand the underlying cause of the trauma to prevent a recurrence. Topical anti-inflammatory medications are effective for a single lesion, while oral medications are necessary for resistant cases or dogs with multiple lesions.
Surgery involves removing the affected webbing and stitching the adjacent toes together to prevent the regrowth of the webbing. However, this can cause future orthopedic problems, and postoperative care is time-intensive, requiring frequent bandage changes.
In addition, pain and foot licking may still occur, so it is essential to address underlying conditions.
CO2 Laser Treatment
CO2 laser treatment removes thin layers of unhealthy skin with minimal damage to surrounding tissues. Multiple laser procedures are often necessary to achieve the best outcome.
In some cases, despite treatment and identification of an underlying disease, dogs may experience chronic recurrent lesions. Long-term topical medications such as cyclosporine and medicated baths done weekly or biweekly can help manage these lesions.
Recovery From Interdigital Cysts
The recovery and management of interdigital cysts in dogs can be a lengthy process lasting several months. Effective management involves:
- Identifying and managing the underlying cause of the trauma.
- Reducing exposure to further traumas.
- Promoting healthy skin regeneration.
Environmental factors such as wet, complex, or uneven surfaces, dirty kennels, and uncontrolled allergies can impede the complete resolution of interdigital cysts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Interdigital cysts, or interdigital furuncles, are painful, inflamed lesions that typically form between a dog’s toes. They are often due to an infection or foreign body, such as a grass seed, lodged between the toes.
Here are some steps you can take to treat an interdigital cyst on a dog:
Clean the affected area
Gently clean the area around the cyst with an antiseptic solution to prevent further infection. You can use a solution of hydrogen peroxide and water or a solution recommended by your veterinarian.
Soak the paw
Soaking the paw in warm water for 10 to 15 minutes a few times daily can help soften the skin and bring the cyst to a head. You can also add Epsom salt to the water to help reduce swelling.
Apply warm compresses
After soaking the paw, apply warm compresses to the cyst for five to 10 minutes to help draw out the pus.
Apply topical treatments
Your veterinarian may recommend a topical treatment, such as an antibiotic ointment or steroid cream, to help reduce inflammation and fight infection.
Keep the dog’s paw dry
Keep the affected area clean and dry to prevent further infection.
Monitor the cyst
Keep an eye on the cyst and watch for any signs of worsening, such as redness, swelling, or discharge. Contact your veterinarian for further treatment if the cyst stays the same or worsens.
Interdigital cysts typically do not go away independently and usually require treatment. These cysts are due to an infection or foreign body, such as a grass seed, lodged between the toes.
If left untreated, the cyst can become more prominent, painful, and even rupture, leading to further infection and discomfort for the dog.
In some cases, the cyst may appear to go away on its own, but this is usually temporary, as the underlying cause of the cyst still exists. Therefore, it is essential to seek veterinary care if you suspect your dog has an interdigital cyst to prevent it from recurring or worsening.
While natural remedies may relieve your dog’s interdigital cyst, it is crucial to seek veterinary care to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the cyst properly. In addition, a natural remedy alone may not eliminate the cyst or prevent it from recurring.
That being said, here are some natural remedies that may help alleviate the symptoms of interdigital cysts:
Epsom salt soak
Soaking your dog’s paw in warm water mixed with Epsom salt can help reduce swelling and inflammation associated with the cyst. Do this a few times daily for 10 to 15 minutes each time.
Turmeric has anti-inflammatory properties that may help reduce swelling and pain associated with the cyst. You can add a small amount of turmeric to your dog’s food or apply a paste of turmeric and coconut oil directly to the cyst.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has antibacterial properties that may help fight infection associated with the cyst. However, diluting tea tree oil before applying it to your dog’s skin is essential, as it can be toxic if ingested. Instead, mix a few drops of tea tree oil with coconut oil and apply it to the cyst.
Aloe vera gel can help soothe the skin and reduce inflammation associated with the cyst. Apply a small amount of aloe vera gel to the affected area a few times daily.
The treatment of interdigital cysts depends on the severity of the cyst and the underlying cause of the condition. Therefore, it’s essential to consult with a veterinarian before applying any treatment to the affected area. However, here are some common treatments:
Antibacterial or antifungal topical medication
These medications can be applied directly to the affected area to help eliminate bacteria or fungi causing the cyst.
A steroid cream can help reduce inflammation and itching associated with the cyst.
Applying a warm compress to the cyst a few times daily can help reduce swelling and promote healing.
Keep it fry and clean
Keeping the affected area clean and dry is vital to prevent further infection. If the cyst does not improve or worsen, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for further evaluation and treatment.
The treatment of a cyst on a dog’s paw will depend on the type, size, and location of the cyst. Here are some possible treatment options that your veterinarian may recommend:
If the cyst is small and not causing discomfort, your veterinarian may be able to aspirate the fluid using a needle and syringe.
Surgical removal may be necessary if the cyst is large, infected, or causing discomfort. Your veterinarian will perform a surgical procedure to remove the cyst and suture the incision site.
If the cyst is infected, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to help fight the infection.
If the cyst is causing discomfort or inflammation, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medication to help reduce swelling and pain.
Laser therapy may promote healing and reduce inflammation.
Keeping the affected area clean and dry is essential to prevent further infection. Follow your veterinarian’s recommendations for postoperative care and monitor to ensure proper healing.
Epsom salt can benefit interdigital cysts in dogs as it helps reduce inflammation, promote healing, and soothe the affected area.
In addition, warm water and Epsom salt will help to increase blood flow to the affected area, which can help to reduce swelling and promote healing. The Epsom salt also helps remove toxins or bacteria contributing to the cyst.
To use Epsom salt for interdigital cysts, add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Epsom salt to a basin of warm water and soak the affected paw in the solution for five to 10 minutes, two to three times a day.
Dry your dog thoroughly after the soak to prevent further irritation or infection.
While Epsom salt can provide some relief for interdigital cysts, it is essential to seek veterinary care to diagnose and treat the underlying cause of the cyst. Your veterinarian may recommend additional treatments, such as antibiotics or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition.
Conclusion for “Interdigital Cysts In Dogs: What Is It and How to Treat It”
Interdigital cysts in dogs commonly cause paw discomfort and require early diagnosis and treatment to promote recovery. Dogs with excessive paw licking, inflamed and reddened skin between their toes, and nodules may suffer from interdigital cysts.
Following the tips on home treatments for interdigital cysts in dogs, pet owners can relieve their furry companions and prevent complications.
If you find this guide, “Interdigital Cysts In Dogs: What Is It and How to Treat It,” helpful, check out:
- Follicular Cysts in Dogs: What to Do and How to Treat Them! (2023)
- Hard Bump on Bridge of Dog’s Nose: Causes and How to Treat It! (2023)
- Dog Warts: What You Need to Know! (2023)
Learn more by watching “Interdigital Cysts in Dogs” down below:
Garrett loves animals and is a huge advocate for all Doodle dog breeds. He owns his own Goldendoodle named Kona. In addition, he volunteers at the Humane Society of Silicon Valley, where he fosters dogs and helps animals. Garrett enjoys writing about Doodles and believes that dogs can teach humans more about how to live than humans can teach a dog.
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