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Bulldog Interdigital Cysts

Interdigital Cysts, (growths between the toes). Nobody really knows what causes them, some people think it is a fungus and some think it is an ingrown hair or that it may form as a result of the penetration of the skin by a foreign body – frequently grass awns. They usually clear up on their own and I am of the opinion they should not be punctured because that can lead to infection. And if possible try to avoid the antibiotic route unless there is an infection. Interdigital cysts are common in some breeds of dog . They are soft to firm fluid-filled swellings that form in the web of skin between the toes. They sometimes rupture and discharge fluid or pus.


Breed Occurrence

The following breeds of dog are said to develop interdigital cysts commonly :

  • English Bulldogs
  • German Shepherd Dogs
  • German Short-haired Pointers
  • Great Danes
  • Pekingese
  • Scottish Terriers
  • West Highland White Terriers


  • Pigmentation of the skin and hair between the toes (red-brown-black)
  • Soft to firm swelling(s) in the web of skin between the toes
  • Discharge fluid or pus
  • Increased licking or biting of the feet between the toes
  • Lameness

Bacterial infection is a secondary complication.

Diagnosis is based upon the typical location and appearance of the swellings in the interdigital skin. XRays may be taken to detect foreign material eg metal, or underlying involvement of bone, and a biopsy may be taken to eliminate the possibility of cancer.

Medical treatment involves the use of corticosteroids (like prednisolone) which are effective in some cases. Surgical exploration of the cysts will help to identify and remove any foreign material eg grass awns.
Surgical removal (excision) off the swellings is the usual outcome if a patient does not respond to medical treatment. Unfortunately recurrence at the same site or in another interdigital web is common.

Good if a foreign body can be identified and removed. Guarded if no primary cause can be found because recurrence is common.


When the area is not infected applying the bath instructions below in an early stage this will help to dissolve it in a few days in 90% of the cases.
Soak your dogs paws (preferably two or three times a day) with Epsom salts. The easiest way to do this is to do in the tub or fill the laundry tub up with 2 to 3 inches of warm water and 1 cup of Epsom Salts.
Put your Bulldog in the tub and just pet him for about 10 minutes or so. After ten minutes or so have elapsed, put your bulldog on a thick towel and gently pat his affected foot dry.

Some people use the method below when this does not work. My last Bulldog had this problem a few times but the method named above always worked for her so I never used the method described below.
After the first bath with Epsom Salts and drying its paws, fill up a cup with about an inch of hydrogen peroxide and hold his paws in this for a few moments. The area and in particular the cyst itself will respond to the hydrogen peroxide with bubbling, where as the rest of his foot does not. This shows that there is catalase enzyme present in these areas, which is one of the components released when blood or damaged cells are present.

Remember always consult with your veterinarian before starting any kind of treatment.

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16 responses »

  1. Oh, poor things. We’ll keep an eye out for them on our travels.

  2. whoa! this might be what Charlie had. I remember one day noticing that she had this weird tube like shaped thing growing out of her foot. I was totally freaked out at first as any dog owner would be. I did what I have done in the past with infected things, soaked it in salt water. After about a week of salt water soaks it just vanished. I remember thinking how weird it was, and even thought maybe I was going crazy, but it was just gone! Since then she has not had another. Thanks for shedding light on what I thought was my mutant dog ha ha

  3. My bulldog had one of these that went away with treatment. I wanted to mention that sometimes alot of redness in between paws can be an allergic reaction as well. our bulldog used to get a red rash in between her paws and on her face at the sametime. Turned out she is allergic to wheat, yeast and corn and is now on a special diet and it has cleared up.
    She also had the same redness and hives from a medication the vet put her on once as well after a surgery.
    And soaking the paws will not help,these too problems. so when in doubt, take your dog to the vet.

  4. This is good information, thanks for sharing. My eight year old bully has this problem; and when they occur, I soak him in the tub, but next time I will try the soak with epsom salt.

  5. This is good information, thanks for sharing. My eight year old bully has this problem; and when they occur, I soak him in the tub, but next time I will try the soak with epsom salt.

  6. Preperation H helps these go away.

  7. Having read this I believed it was very informative. I appreciate you finding the
    time and energy to put this article together.
    I once again find myself spending a significant amount of time both
    reading and posting comments. But so what, it was still worth it!

  8. Pingback: English Bulldog Interdigital Cysts - Georgia's Bully Babies | Georgia's Bully Babies

  9. Wonderful site. Lots of useful information here.

    I’m sending it to a few friends ans also sharing in delicious. And naturally, thank you to your effort!

  10. It is called Furunkoloses, my bully has it too, and my vet says, is comes from allergies.. Mine is allergic to some sort of protiens, so he is on a speciel diat food, where there is only proteins from horse and fish.. I have also heard that dustmites can cause it, then you should go to the vet every third month an get the dog an injection shot of antihistamins.. But first get your dog allergi testet at vet..
    But sadly nothing has helped him yet, we are still hopping for improvement, and is taking all the advices we can get..
    I am Danish, so pardon my English

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  13. Hi there, my boerbull has a massive swelling between each front paws firtst two digits.. I soaked them in empom salt like u suggested but it staid there, this morning the left paw was swollen to twice the size, and when i looked, it erupted top to bottom , forming u tunnel inside… Should i apply hydrogen peroxide when the paw is raw or wait until it heals up again, i bought the 10% strength, should i dilute it or what..? The vet gave her anti biotics,which didnt work with ointment that didnt work either, she had puss pockets on her face when she was a puppy, but they cleared up and came out between her paws.

    • when it is open/erupted you need to see a vet. Also buy some dogsocks at the petstore so he or she wont bite/lick her/his paws. Try daily soaking her paws in a cup with the epsom salt preferably 3 to 5 times day, make sure to dry it and put socks on afterwards. Hope your dog gets well soon ♥

  14. Hi bulldog Brenda..has had the same problem since septemberlast year,I have seen 4 different vets including a specialist ,bulldog vet,I tryed all he creams ,atibioticts,steroids,Epsom salts,but she still ets it..costing a fortune,,I’m back to the vets today..poor Brenda,xxxx


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