Boils on Dogs

Boils on dogs are skin infections that start at the level of the hair follicle or the oil gland. Although boils on dogs are very treatable conditions, they can be extremely painful for dogs. This is why it is important for dog owners to recognize the signs of boils, know when to seek treatment and how to administer home care of boils on dogs.

Boils Explained

Although the appearance of a boil may be somewhat alarming in that dog owners often suspect a major underlying health condition, boils on dogs are true skin infections. Boils typically begin within a deep layer of skin, but they actually result in abscess formation on the outermost layer of skin.

Causes of Boils in Dogs

Boils on dogs can occur from a variety of different causes. In most cases, they are the result of bacterial infections; although sebaceous cysts and nutritional deficiencies have also been known to contribute to boil formation. Some of the more common causes of boils on dogs can include:

  • Immunosuppressant disorders – Disorders that affect the immune system and its infection-fighting capabilities can increase the incidence of boils on dogs.
  • Allergies – Dogs that experience skin allergies from food or environmental irritants are at an increased risk for developing boils.
  • Diabetes – Dogs that are diabetic have been linked to a higher prevalence of boils, namely because the hormonal affect of diabetes can increase oil secretions in the oil glands and increase the incidence of boils.
  • Poor hygiene – Dogs that are unkempt, not regularly brushed or those that live in suboptimal health conditions have an increased risk for developing an array of skin conditions, including boils.
  • Diet – Some dog foods include excessive amounts of fats and oils. These oils contribute to the production of oil secretion by the oil glands, again increasing the prevalence of boils on dogs.

Signs and Symptoms of Boils

In dogs, boils most commonly appear on the abdomen, underneath the arms and on the buttocks. Because boils do require treatment, it is important that dog owners be able to identify the symptoms of boils and recognize them as such. Signs and symptoms can include:

  • Hard lumps that appear red, irritated and infected
  • Progression of the lump as it becomes softer but larger and more painful
  • Pus-like appearance on the tip of the boil
  • Oozing of the lump
  • Fever
  • Multiplication of the lumps on other areas of the dog’s body

Treating Boils on Dogs

Home treatment of boils should begin with the application of a warm compress. The warmth of the compress allows the heat to help bring the pus to the surface so that the abscess can be drained, but keep in mind that it could take up to 10 days to get the boil to completely drain. When veterinary attention is sought, however, the boil will be lanced so that the pus can drain from the abscess immediately.

In most cases, the dog will also be given antibiotics to help fight any type of bacterial infection which might have caused the abscess. If an underlying condition is suspected, the drainage from the boil may be sent for culture to help determine which antibiotic will be most effective in abating recurrence.