Monday, December 19, 2016

Holistic Treatment for Perianal Fistulas in Dogs

german shepherd dog with legs crossed

Canine anal fistulas or anal furunculosis, is a condition in dogs that causes painful, ulcerated tracts or tunnels around the anus. They can be deep and may extend inward, causing discomfort and inflammation. Dogs with perianal fistulas often experience symptoms such as pain, swelling, redness, discharge, and difficulty or discomfort during bowel movements.

Dog anal fistulas can be a chronic and recurring condition, affecting certain breeds more commonly, such as German Shepherds, Irish Setters, Boxers, and Bulldogs. When the condition is mild you may not notice there is a problem, but as it continues to progress watch for signs your dog is straining to defecate, having blood in their feces, and a decrease in appetite. You might also notice that they excessively lick their tail and hindquarters, often leading to infection with chronic draining ulcers that can be very painful.

The exact cause of canine anal fistulas is not fully understood, but several factors are believed to contribute to their development:

  • Immune system dysfunction - An abnormal immune response is thought to play a significant role in the development of perianal fistulas. Dogs with compromised immune systems or autoimmune disorders may be more susceptible to this condition.
  • Chronic inflammation - Chronic inflammation of the perianal region, often due to underlying conditions such as allergies, infections, or anal sac disease, can contribute to the development of fistulas.
  • Infections -Secondary bacterial or fungal infections in the perianal area can worsen the condition and contribute to the formation of fistulas.
  • Dietary factors - Some research has suggested a potential link between diet and perianal fistulas. Specific dietary components or sensitivities may trigger or exacerbate the condition in susceptible individuals.
  • Environmental factors - Environmental factors, such as exposure to certain irritants or allergens, may contribute to the development or progression of perianal fistulas.

What Is a Canine Anal Fistula?

A canine anal fistula is an abnormal connection or passageway that forms between two organs, vessels, or structures in the body that are not normally connected. This connection creates an unnatural channel, allowing fluids or substances to flow between these structures. Fistulas can occur in various parts of the body, not just the perianal area.  For example, anal sac fistulas are abnormal connections or tracts that form between the anal sacs and the skin surrounding the anus. This condition can cause discomfort, pain, and the formation of draining tracts that may ooze pus and blood.

Mild Vs Severe Canine Anal Fistulas

Dog anal fistulas can progress with symptoms becoming more severe which is why it is so important to seek treatment from a veterinarian early.  Mild perianal fistulas may just appear to be a pustule with erosions.  Severe cases can be bleeding sinus cavities with several draining tracts oozing blood and pus. The open sores can become swollen and red and the discharge from the fistulas generally has a strong foul odor.  

Treatment For Perianal Fistulas In Dogs

Canine anal fistulas can be challenging to manage and require a comprehensive approach. Treatment for canine anal fistulas often involves a combination of medications, topical treatments, hygiene, dietary adjustments, and natural supplements.  

  • Treatment with prescription medications (oral and topical) can help temporarily clear up the infection.  Check with your veterinarian about using natural hypocholorous acid or silver sprays topically to help heal the sore areas.

  • Diet Changes -A hypoallergenic, novel protein diet may help support your dog's overall health and immune system. Some pet owners have reported improvement in perianal fistula symptoms by avoiding common allergens or inflammatory ingredients. Common allergens for dogs may include grains, beef, and chicken. Artificial additives and preservatives can contribute to inflammation. Using a natural, minimally processed diet with fiber in the form of vegetables and pumpkin can help. includes free diet tips on product orders to help your dog make a faster recovery. 
  • Clipping of the perianal region to increase ventilation along with cleaning the area.  Use unscented baby wipes to keep your dog's butt clean.  Controlling bacteria is paramount when dealing with perianal fistulas in dogs.  Wash your dog's bedding regularly and encourage them to lie on soft mats instead of the floor or cement. 

Supplements For Perianal Fistulas in Dogs

  • Omega-3 Fatty Acids - Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fish oil or flaxseed oil, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation associated with perianal fistulas.
  • Probiotics - Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help support digestive health and promote a balanced immune system. They may assist in maintaining a healthy gut microbiome, potentially reducing inflammation and improving immune function.  Power Probiotic for Petsreplenishes good bacteria reducing the possibility of infection.
  • Plant Sterols: Plant sterols have been studied for potential health benefits, such as anti-inflammatory effects and immune modulation.  By balancing the immune response and reducing inflammation, plant sterols may help alleviate symptoms associated with perianal fistulas. Immune Harmony contains natural plant sterols to help modulate and balance your dog's immune response.
  • Herbal Remedies - Some herbal remedies, such as quercetin and olive leaf extract have natural anti-inflammatory properties. Topical application of silver spray may also help provide relief and promote healing.  AllerEaze and Olive Leaf Extract help reduce your dog's histamine response and fight infection.

If you suspect your dog may have perianal fistulas, it is important to consult with a veterinarian who can provide a proper diagnosis, determine the underlying causes, and develop an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your dog's specific needs. 

Need help? has been supporting dog owners with anal fistulas since 2005.    Please feel free to email us at  Our compassionate staff answers promptly and will be happy to assist you. 

Author:  Susan Blake Davis
Original Post Date:  12/19/2016
Revised:  6/29/2024