Celebrate the Whippet Breed

Dealing with Interdigital Cysts

Suggestions by Wendy Woller, Whippet Owner 

One of the most common foot problems is interdigital pyoderma -- infections between the toes. Unless the underlying infection can be controlled, there is a strong likelihood of return of the cyst or development of a similar cyst in another location on the feet. Allergies and immune mediated disease can be the initiating causes of interdigital pyoderma. Often, if this is the case, there will be other skin disease or chronic ear infections in conjunction with the foot problems. If Demodectic mange mites are present they can cause severe secondary bacterial foot infections as well. Whatever the cause, when these infections get bad, lumps form that look a lot like cysts but are actually granulomas (solid lumps). Since most clients recognize the term cyst and few recognize the term granuloma, vets tend to mislabel these as cysts for convenience sake.

Interdigital cysts are a common problem in short haired breeds of dogs. Males do seem to be worse and Labs probably worst of all. There are a number of differential diagnoses to consider such as demodex, fungi, pyoderma secondary to atopy, dermoid cysts, etc. Dermoid cysts are invaginations of the skin which forms a pocket of hair and misc. junk. They are often infected and they always recur unless surgically removed. Especially if the cysts are recurrent, a good option is to have the cyst surgically removed and send it to a dermatopathologist, not a regular pathologist. It is expensive but it will greatly reduce the number of return trips to the vet. With that diagnosis, it will be easier to deal with future recurrences. Other treatment includes long-term antibiotic treatment -- three to six months may be required. Make sure the antibiotic choice and dosing is appropriate. Culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests are recommended. Also, demodectic mange may be underlying the problem. Skin scrapes can make the diagnosis, but false negatives are possible. Foot dips in mitoban (diluted) followed by warm soaks in dilute chlorihexidine may clear it up.

There is a very informative article by Leanne Gossett athttp://www.barkbytes.com/medical/med0025.htm

Wendy J. Woller
PoleStar Whippets