Click here to learn more.
A perianal fistula is a painful opening in the skin around the anus of a dog. The condition affects
German Shepherds most commonly, although other breeds can develop the problem. There are several possible contributing factors, including genetics, allergic skin disease, and alterations in immune system functioning. If your dog strains to defecate, has pain and bleeding around his rear end, seems constipated, licks his bottom excessively, or has a smelly discharge from the area, a perianal fistula is possible. Treatments range from medication to surgery, though for many
dogs the problem is persistent.
Perianal fistulae are draining openings in the skin around the anus that do not heal. The word fistulae is the plural of fistula, which is an abnormal tract or passageway from an
abscess, organ, or body cavity to the body surface. The term perianal describes the area around the anus.
An affected dog may have a single fistula, or many fistulae that can encircle the anal opening. Although a hereditary component is presumed due to certain breed predilections, the cause of the condition is multifactorial. Allergic skin disease, conformation-related issues (as when
dogs hold their tails close to their anuses), and abnormal functioning of the immune system are among the factors thought to play a role in the disease process.
Middle-aged to older dogs (usually seven or older) are most often affected.
Straining to defecate, perianal pain and bleeding, constipation, licking of the area, and a smelly discharge are typical.
Diagnosis involves evaluating age, breed, clinical signs, and physical exam findings. Rectal examination (under anesthesia, if necessary) is required in most cases. Sometimes, a biopsy may be recommended to rule out tumors or other conditions that can similarly affect the anal area.
German Shepherds are most notoriously affected, although
Irish Setters and
Labrador Retrievers are among the breeds that seem over-represented.
Perianal fistula is a frustrating, difficult-to-treat disease. Though medical and surgical treatments have both been described, these approaches can be insufficiently helpful for some affected dogs. Dogs that do respond to medical treatment may require many months to recover, and relapses can occur.
Medical management typically involves the use of drugs that interfere with the inflammatory response. Cyclosporine and tacrolimus have both been employed successfully. Antimicrobials and antiseptics are often administered as well by way of treating the secondary infections almost always present in this especially bacteria-rich location.
The surgical approach to perianal fistula management relies on the removal of the tracts. More than one procedure is sometimes required. Tail amputation has also been described as potentially helpful for dogs whose tail conformation has been deemed a major contributing cause of the disease.
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
Nindiri, a 7-year-old jaguar, proudly
carried her little bundle into her den to
meet the public at the San Diego…
Rescuers are using drones to locate and
help some of the Texas city’s estimated one million homeless dogs.
Before you buy chicks or ducklings for
your kids' Easter baskets, make sure you
know what you're getting yourself…
Dr. Marty Becker knows from experience
that it's hard to adjust to children leaving
home and taking family pets…
It’s more than just cute when your kitty
naps in a box — it’s an instinctive
behavior that’s hardwired in her…
The talented Sporting Group dogs will
impress you with their hunting skills and
win you over with their…
Our expert explains why the old formula
that one year of a dog's life equals seven
years of human life isn’t…
Want to find out how well your cat or dog is digesting his food? Well, our vet says the proof is in your pet's poop.
The active and playful Devon Rex’s high cheekbones and slender build make her look like a top feline model.
Thank you for subscribing.