Causes of Canine Skin Boils

James Glover
by James Glover
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Question3 Days ago we purchased a beagle and this morning we noticed that there was a big boil on her belly. After draining the discharge we noticed another one starting on her nose and now we are very concerned. What could be causing this? (Nancy Osmond - Canada)

Answer

Most dogs will get at least one boil during their life, but it is unusual to get several in different places at the same time. Most boils are caused by normal skin bacteria infiltrating the hair follicle and multiplying - the pus in the boil is a bi-product of the bacterial metabolism. At home you can press the boil with a sterile cloth dipped in warm water to reduce the swelling and draw the puss to the surface. You will need to make sure that no secondary infection occurs and if your dog begins to obsessively lick the area it might be worth buying an Elizabethan collar for him, since constant licking will slow the healing process. You should also make sure that your dog has access to plenty of fresh water.

Other boils can be caused by a tiny parasitic mite called Demodex canis. Demodex is a genus of mites that live in the hair follicles of mammas, including humans. Under normal circumstances their occurrence is harmless. However if the immune response of the host is impaired somehow (for example by an autoimmune disease or stress), their presence can become a clinical infestation. The most common sites for boils to appear as a result of Demodex mites are the face, muzzle and forelimbs. One or two boils with no recurrence of symptoms is not an indication of Demodex infestation, which would be followed by more boils, pustules and wrinkling of the skin. If you suspect a Demodex infection your dog will require veterinary treatment.

If your dog does not have any further symptoms, a few boils can possibly be put down to poor hygiene in the pet shop or at the breeder's home and requires no further attention. However, if symptoms persist or if your dog develops any additional symptoms, your dog will need a thorough examination by your vet.

Disclaimer: This service is meant to provide advice only and is not meant to replace an appointment with a registered veterinarian. Users should always seek a second opinion. Unfortunately we are only able to answer several questions per week so not everyone gets a published answer. And, unfortunately we can't answer by email.
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