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208 Breeds, 422 Health Conditions  |  Find a Vet

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Perianal Fistulas




Condition Overview

Fistulas are draining tracts in the perianal skin caused by infection of the skin glands around the anus.


Initially they appear as draining puncture holes. Later they coalesce to form open sores and draining tracts. The discharge is foul smelling. Occasionally, fistuals connect internally with the anal sacs.


Perianal fistulas occur most often in German Shepherds, but are also found in Irish Setters, English Setters, Labrador Retrievers, and other breeds. There may be an association with breeds that have a low-slung, broad-basd tail.


The diagnosis is made by visual inspection of the perianal area.


Surgery is the most effective treatment and may include tail amputation. Cyclosporine and other immune-mediating medications may also be helpful in treating perianal fistulas. Perianal fistulas are difficult to cure and are associated with post operative complications and recurrences. Early treatment offers the best chance for recovery. Cryotherapy and laser treatments have been used with success. Unfortunately, many surgical treatments may leave the dog with a degree of fecal incontinence.


There is no prevention for this condition.


Please contact your veterinarian if you suspect your pet may have this condition.

Show Sources & Contributors +


Dog Owners Home Veterinary Handbook

Publisher: Wiley Publishing, 2007

Website: http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/

Authors: Debra M. Eldredge, Liisa D. Carlson, Delbert G. Carlson, James M. Giffen MD

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