PODODERMATITIS (Interdigital pyoderma, Pedal Folliculitis. furunculosis)

Note for Pet Owners:

This information is provided by Provet for educational purposes only.

You should seek the advice of your veterinarian if your pet is ill as only he or she can correctly advise on the diagnosis and recommend the treatment that is most appropriate for your pet.

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Pododermatitis is a general term used to describe several different skin disorders which affect the skin webs between the toes and between the foot pads. The result is inflammation (reddness) or swellings, sometimes with discharging sinuses.The underlying cause is often unknown.

See also : Interdigital cysts

In some cases an underlying cause can be identified, but in many cases there is no known cause. In summary, various known causes of  pododermatitis
include :

  • Most cases are idiopathic - i.e. the cause is unknown
  • Foreign object penetrations into the skin - grass awns, splinters of wood, thorns
  • Foreign material collected against the skin - tar, gravel, sand, chemicals, wlaking on freshly laid ("green") concrete
  • Trauma - eg grazes, cuts, bruises
  • Cancer
  • Clipper rash
  • Infections - bacteria, fungi, parasites (eg demodex mite)
  • Psychological disorders - German Shepherd Dogs, Poodles and some Terriers.
  • Sterile pyogranulomas - English Bulldogs, Dachshunds, Great Danes, Boxers - cause unknown.
  • Immune disorders - including autoimmune disease (pemphigus, pemphigoid, systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Direct contact allergy
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Drug reactions
  • Zinc-deficiency
  • Canine distemper virus

Bacterial infection can be secondary to another primary cause.

Breed Occurrence
Some breeds are predisposed to develop pododermatitis including the Bassett Hound, Boxer, English Bulldog, Bull Terrier, Dachshund, Dalmatian, German Shepherd Dogs, German Short-haired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Great Dane,  Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff, Pekingese, and Weimaraner

linical signs include excessive licking and biting at the feet and lameness. There is reddness and sometimes local swelling with/without ulcers or sinus formation. Sometimes swellings are not painful and there are few signs other than the formation of a swelling.

Unfortunately, pododermatitis can develop into a chronic condition which is kept going by the animal's self-trauma. Secondary infection can become established in open ulcers or sinuses.

Diagnosis is based upon the presenting signs. The history may confirm exposure to one of the known environmental causes of pododermatitis. Skin scrapings (for parasites), laboratory culture and sensitivity testing - for micro-organisms and even biopsy of the lesions may be needed. Xray examination is needed in some casesto determine whether the underlying bone is involved and blood tests are required to eliminate hormonal disorders (such as hypothyroidism) as a cause.

Treatment of the underlying cause (if one can be identified) is essential . Antibiotic therapy is needed if bacterial infection (primary or secondary) is present.

Regular bathing in salty water, or in an antiseptic solution (such as chlorhexidine) for 15 minutes 2-3 times daily is often recommended. Excess hair should be carefully clipped from between the toes and pads to prevent foreign material being collected and causing irritation. 

Changing surfaces that the animal is exercised on may help identify a contact problem. For example, dogs usually exercised on pavements can be exercised exclusively for a period on grass, or vice versa. Dogs kept indoors on nylon carpets can be kept in rooms with wool carpets.

For localised lesions surgical exploration may be needed to find foreign penetrating material (eg grass seeds) and sometimes surgical removal (excision) of isolated lesions is performed.

During periods when the feet are tender and sore, special boots "Bandiboots" are available to protect the feet .


Unfortunately some cases do not respond to treatment and they can recur throughout life. Open lesions that heal leave scars on the feet. 

Long term problems


Updated October 2013