The presence of a boil on a dog’s buttocks may be concerning to dog owners. Often, such boil appears suddenly, out of the blue, and dog owners may wonder what caused it, and most of all, what they can do about it. Often, such boils appear as reddened, infected lumps that may be draining pus or a bloody discharge. Affected dogs are often seen licking the area often as if bothered by it. Preventing the dog from further irritating the area is important to prevent complications. If you notice the presence of a boil on a dog’s buttocks, there may be several underlying causes, and therefore, seeing the vet for proper diagnosis and treatment is important.
Presence of a Boil on a Dog’s Buttocks
A “boil” is defined as a skin infection that starts in a hair follicle or oil gland. However, in dogs, a boil near the dog’s buttocks is most likely caused by an abscess of a dog’s glands found at the 4 o’clock and 8 o’clock location around the dog’s bum under the dog’s tail.
The purpose of these glands is to secrete fluid which is meant for communication purposes. When dogs defecate producing solid stools, these glands empty, leaving traces of this fluid which is used to mark territory and provide identity information to other dogs. When dogs are frightened, they may also empty these glands which helps inform other dogs about the danger.
Sometimes though, these glands may not empty as they should, and when this happens, they become impacted which causes bacteria to build up and a “boil” may appear. This boil may be a sign of an infection or an abscess and can be very painful to the dog, causing him discomfort. Affected dogs, may be seen scooting on their bums or excessively licking and chewing the area.
These abscesses once formed are not easy to treat at home and often require veterinary attention so that the vet can flush out the duct under sedation and have the dog placed on a course of antibiotics, and possibly, some pain medications. Severe cases of impaction may require surgical removal of the glands.
In the case of a gland abscess, dog owners can provide temporary relief at home by using a clean washcloth and applying it to the area for about 4 to 5 minutes every six hours, suggests veterinarian Dr. Matt.Care should be taken in watching the dog for signs of defensive aggression. A good dog can always bite when in pain. If your dog is aggressive, avoid doing this.
A Possible Tumor
Sometimes, what looks like a boil is actually a tumor. Dogs may have cancerous and non-cancerous growths in their buttock areas, more likely directly on their bums rather than on the sides of it as it happens with gland abscesses.
Intact, not neutered, male dogs can sometimes develop perianal adenomas. These growths may grow to a very large size and may ulcerate if they are chewed or rubbed by scooting. Fortunately, these often resolve on their own (being hormonally-induced) once the dog is neutered (castrated).
A malignant tumor known as perianal adenocarcinoma should be ruled out. Unfortunately, it is impossible to diagnose most growths just by the way they look or feel, no matter how many years of practicing or how much training a veterinarian has obtained.
To determine whether a boil-like growth is a malignant cancer or not, the vet will have to take a sample. This can be done through a fine needle aspirate (FNA) which is done by using a very small need to collect a sample of cells from the mass and then examining it under the microscope. This procedure typically requires no sedation or anesthesia, and is quick and rather inexpensive as it’s typically done within minutes during a veterinary office examination.
Another option is to get a sample through a biopsy which involves taking a tissue sample and then sending it off to a pathologist to carefully look at it through a microscope. This is a more involved procedure.
Other Skin Problems
What looks like a boil on a dog’s buttocks may be several other different things. Skin problems to consider include folliculitis, a condition involving infected hair follicles which may require antibiotic therapy to resolve should there be a secondary infection. Folliculitis entails solid inflammatory nodules caused by an inflammatory reaction to broken hairs embedded in the dog’s skin. It is often found in short-haired breeds.
Another possibility is a skin abscess. An abscess can be caused by almost anything, such as the presence of a thorn, or a splinter or the dog scraping the skin against something sharp as it may happen with dogs who tend to scoot onto abrasive surfaces such as the ground and rocks.
Other possibilities include a small infected cyst or a pustule due to a bacterial infection. Plasmacytoma, sebaceous gland adenoma, histiocytomas and lipomas are other skin issues that may sometimes resemble boils. Not to mention that, a spider bite or other type of bug bite, can cause growths that may sometime resemble a boil.
At the Vet’s’ Office
If your dog presents with a boil on the buttock area, it is best to see the vet. As seen, there are several possible causes and some of them can be quite serious. Be prepared to answer several questions such as for how long you have noticed the presence of a boil on a dog’s buttock, what you have done so far and general questions about your dog’s diet, what medications he is on and whether your dog has other medical problems or is exhibiting other unusual symptoms.
Your vet will then perform a physical examination on your dog and will then pay particular attention to the “boil.” He or she may gently touch to area to assess the growth and possibly insert a gloved, lubricated finger in the dog’s bum to check for any abnormalities (digital exam).
Based on your vet’s suspicions, he or she may take a sample of cells through a fine needle aspirate and/or may prescribe medications if there is presence of infection. Follow your vet’s instructions carefully when medications are dispensed and report any side effects.
Your dog may come home with an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from excessively licking or biting the area as this will delay healing and potentially cause complications.