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As your German Shepherd Dog tries to eliminate, you notice he is straining.
You can tell that by looking at how distressed and uncomfortable he is when eliminating.
Sometimes he has constipation or diarrhea. When he manages to defecate, his feces come out with blood or mucus.
Your dog clearly suffers from a perianal fistula. Don’t panic though as there are treatment solutions for the condition.
In this post, we will go over some home remedies you can consider.
What Is Perianal Fistula?
Also called anus furunculosis, perianal fistula features tube-like formations that develop deep in the tissues surrounding a canine’s anus. They start as tiny holes in the skin then deepen and widen over time.
The exact causes of perianal fistula is not fully understood although many canine experts cite multiple factors.
One of the suggested causes of this condition is anatomic predisposition, which simply implies that the individual anatomy of a dog may make him/her susceptible to the condition.
The theory is supported by the fact that the most common dog breed that tends to suffer from this condition, German Shepherds, have broad tail bases and low tail carriages.
If you look closely at a GSD dog, his tail is located very low between his hipbones and thus covers the anus.
This kind of conformation results in increased humidity and poor ventilation in and around the anal area.
Such an environment promotes the growth of fecal bacteria, which in turn increases the risk of infection of the hair follicles and anal glands.
The condition is also thought to be caused by inflammation of sweat and oil glands in and around the dog’s anus. This may be followed by infections, which may lead to abscesses which open and drain.
Remember that the area under your dog’s tail is warm and moist, making it conducive for bacteria to multiply.
Another potential cause of perianal fistulas in dogs is autoimmune diseases. Past research carried out on humans linked perianal fistula with Crohn’s disease.
Apparently, German shepherds (one of the breeds predisposed to the condition) also suffer from inflammation of the colon or concurrent colitis.
Perianal fistula causes a great deal of pain and discomfort in the dog if not treated.
Should your dog have the condition, you may observe the following clinical conditions:
- Constipation and/or diarrhea
- Low tail carriage
- Extensive licking of the area around the anus
- Blood or mucus in stools
- Pain when defecating
- Staining when defecating
- Reluctance to sit or wag tail normally
- Irritation around the anal region
- Aggressiveness when the tail or hindquarters are touched
Surgical intervention has long since been the treatment of choice for perianal fistula.
However, these days there are home remedies that can alleviate the problem. These include the following:
1. Make Dietary Changes
Some cases of perianal fistula unfortunately are caused by allergies. Allergic reactions or autoimmune responses can stem from the dog’s diet.
To know whether the dog is allergic to his normal foods or not, make changes in his diet.
Often, your vet will recommend feeding your dog a novel protein to see if the issue will go away.
In simple terms, novel proteins are those derived from a less common animal.
Ideally, the common sources of protein for dogs include beef, chicken, turkey, goat, and pork.
While all these sources are very good for your dog, he could be having an allergic reaction to one or two of them.
Look for novel proteins such as kangaroo, ostrich, venison, rabbit, quail, bison, and duck and offer them to the dog.
2. Herbal Therapy
Herbal therapy can do wonders when it comes to canine anal conditions. The idea behind this is to soften and loosens anal glands so they can exit on their own.
The treatment can be done by applying warm or hot essential oils such as lavender, red clover tea, chamomile, or calendula.
Dip a cloth in the oil, wait for it to cool slightly, and then hold it against the anal gland for 3-5 minutes.
Talk to your dog as you do this to calm him down. Do this until the mixture cools down.
Repeat the entire process a number of times a day over a period of 12 weeks or until the problem goes away.
Related Post: Which Essential Oils are Toxic to Dogs?
3. Hygiene Therapy
Hygiene is key when managing and treating perianal fistula.
For true healing to take place, the anal area needs to stay dry and clean. That cannot happen if the hygiene is poor in the first place.
Clip the perianal region then clean with a chemical restraint to reduce purulent exudate, remove intralesional hair, purge necrotic tissue, and minimize pain.
In addition, apply a dash of baby powder on the area to absorb moisture and limit regional relative humidity.
4. Feed Fiber-rich Foods
The perianal glands sometimes need exercise to perform as they should. The best way to exercise them is to administer the right diet.
Besides switching to a novel protein diet, also contemplate adding fiber and raw vegetables to flex the anal muscles.
Fiber is especially really good. It is vital to keeping a healthy gut.
Letting your dog chomp on fiber foods can help him avoid issues of the gastrointestinal system including irritable bowel syndrome, obesity, diabetes, and alleviate perianal fistula.
Some of the best fiber-rich foods include plain pumpkin (avoid the one with spices), grated carrots, and bran.
5. Use Supplements
Here’s another great remedy for perianal fistulas.
Supplements add nutrients that foods may not have. Things like probiotics replenish good bacteria lost in the perineum area.
Digestive enzymes also help combat allergies and digestion issues.
To fight infection and support immunity, use natural supplements with antimicrobial properties.
Finally, sources of omega-3 acids like fish oil reduce inflammation and make elimination much more bearable.
6. Immunosuppressive Therapy
When applied twice per day, your dog has a chance to be free from anal furunculosis.
To sweeten the deal even better, there were no reported side effects in any of the patients.
Topical Tacrolimus is one of the best in the market and it is the one used in the study.
Apply on the area twice a day using a glove and watch out for changes over the next few weeks.
7. Apply Topical Antibiotics
The anal gland area is susceptible to infections due to its close contact with the anus.
If your dog suffers from perianal fistula, applying an antibiotic ointment after baths will keep infections at bay.
Pick a dog-safe ointment because the likelihood of your dog licking it is very high.
It should be safe to apply to a ruptured gland that is already releasing pus.
To discourage your pup from licking the ointment, consider using an Elizabethan collar around the neck. You can also offer a distraction like taking him out for a walk.
8. Water Soothing Therapy
Another handy home remedy for anal furunculosis in dogs is flushing water directly over the affected area.
Using a shower head or garden hose, flush lukewarm water over the affected area for 15 minutes.
The lukewarm water will not only soothe the affected area but will also help get rid of dead tissues and reduce inflammation in those areas.
Ensure that the water is under moderate pressure so that the process is as comfortable as possible for your dog.
If you are not sure of the level of pressure of your garden hose, start gradually and build up as your Fido gets used to the process.
To boost the efficacy of this remedy, do this once or twice a day and ensure that each session lasts about 15 minutes.
Consider putting a tail wrap or bandage on your pup’s tail to prevent it from getting too wet.
9. Warm Compress
Applying a warm compress or hot pack stimulates blood vessels to dilate and bring more blood to the affected area. This can help alleviate pain, prevent sores, and promote overall healing.
All you need is a clean, soft cloth or towel and warm water.
Soak the towel or soft cloth in warm water, wring partially, then apply it on the affected areas with gentle pressure.
Ensure that the temperature of the compress is warm and soothing—not hot. You can always test this on your arm before applying it to your dog.
Consider re-warming the towel as it cools.
Repeat this for about 5-10 minutes several times a day.
Alternatively, use a commercial hot pack or warm compress but always ensure that it is warped in a dish towel or pillowcase.
For better results:
- Never apply a hot pack directly to your dog’s skin. Consider placing a towel in between.
- Never leave your pup unattended while the commercial warm compress is on
- Avoid leaving the commercial warm compress in one place for more than 20 minutes.
10. Stool Softeners
As aforementioned symptoms of perianal fistula in dogs include constipation, pain when defecating, struggle to defecate, and tenesmus—the feeling of the need to pass stools even if the bowels are already empty.
All these symptoms may cause pain, strain, cramping, and general discomfort to your dog, especially when he is defecating.
This is where stool softeners or emollient laxatives come in.
Stool softeners work by wetting and softening a dog’s poop, making it easier to pass.
Like any other doggie product out there, you will find a wide range of emollient laxatives for dogs in the market.
To help you choose the best, check out this post: 12+ Dog Stool Softeners for Dogs that Struggle to Defecate
Most importantly, contact your vet before giving your dog any kind of stool softener.
And never give your dog human laxatives as they are too strong for dogs and risk creating health complications.
Even with complete resolution using any of the remedies highlighted herein, you should remember that perianal fistula has a considerably high recurrence rate.
So, you should always remember to keep an eye on returning clinical signs.
In fact, there are instances where the condition may recur for life. Such cases may require lifelong treatment and management plans.
Besides, avoid breeding any dog with perianal fistula as the disease is most likely a genetic condition and may be passed down to offspring.
Can A Perianal Fistula Heal On Its Own?
Perianal fistula requires treatment as it cannot heal on its own.
As a matter of fact, if left untreated, the fistula tract may develop cancer cells.
Fortunately, most cases resolve after a few weeks of treatment. You only need to be patient and brave the entire process.
It can be quite uncomfortable and painful for your dog, so it is easy to give and go the surgical route.
However, try these natural remedies before you expose your dog to invasive procedures.
Which Ointment Is Best For Fistula?
According to a 2018 research published on the NCBI website, the best ointment in Tacrolimus.
The topical immunosuppressive was applied twice per day on ten dogs over a period of 16 weeks.
90% of the dogs improved greatly with 50% of them experiencing full healing.
Its efficacy has been proven to be true. If you are looking for a potent and effective topical ointment for perianal fistula, this one fits the bill.
Anus Furunculosis is a dog owner’s nightmare. No one prepares you for the horror of watching your dog experience intense pain and discomfort.
Luckily, you can do something about it right at home. Refer to any of the perianal fistula dog home remedies on our list when you are lost on what to do.
Sable McNeil is a canine chef, professional pet blogger, and proud owner of two male dogs. I have been an animal lover all my life, with dogs holding a special place in my heart. Initially, I created this blog to share recipes, tips, and any relevant information on healthy homemade dog treats. But because of my unrelenting passion to make a difference in the world of dogs, I have expanded the blog’s scope to include the best information and recommendations about everything dog lovers need to know about their canine friends’ health and wellbeing. My mission now is to find the most helpful content on anything related to dogs and share it with fellow hardworking hound lovers. While everything I share is in line with the latest evidence-based veterinarian health guidelines, nothing should be construed as veterinary advice. Please contact your vet in all matters regarding your Fido’s health.