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Causes of canine skin boils

Updated on February 18, 2012

Boil is a common skin infection. Dogs would suffer from discomfort and pain associated with this skin eruption. Although non-life threatening, this health concern hampers well being and the active life style of the dog. A pea sized boil can grow as big as a golf ball causing not only pain and discomfort but fever, fatigue and a general feeling of illness as well.  Knowing the causes will minimize if not totally prevent the occurrence of this skin infection.

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Canine skin boil

Furuncles, commonly known as boils are common canine skin infections. This skin abscess is a localized infection that starts as a reddened and tender outgrowth that will soon be firm and hard. The abscess will soften when it gets filled with pus - a glutinous collection of bacteria, proteins and the infection-fighting white blood cells that are sent by the body’s immune system to fight the infection.  The center of the abscess will eventually soften when the pus is drawn to the surface. A head will develop and the pus will be spontaneously drained out when the boil erupts.  Boils generally take a week to drain and heal. Some boils though would need to be lanced so that the pus can drain. This red, tender and painful lump will make a dog extremely uncomfortable.

Demodex mites

Demodex is a kind of mite that lives on the skin of mammals. Demodex mites reside in your hair follicle and in your dog’s too. Normally, these parasitic mites are harmless. Their presence in the skin will become a clinical infestation when the immune system of the host is impaired by stress or by an autoimmune disease. Boils resulting from Demodex mites appear on the face, on the muzzle and on the forelimbs of the dog. Boils of this kind are normally mild cases and as soon as the pus is drained, the boils will heal on their own. However, some can turn into very painful open sores when bacteria set in. This kind of boil will take a long time to heal and would need the administration of antibiotics to get the infection under control.

Skin Bacteria

Skin bacteria that penetrate the skin through the hair follicle can be the cause for the growth of an abscess. The tender outgrowth will be filled with pus, a sign of infection. Pus is a sign that the body’s immune system is fighting the infection. Poor hygiene allows the buildup of bacteria and other harmful microorganisms in the skin that cause a number of skin infections one of which is skin boil. Boils arising from skin bacteria can be prevented by using antibacterial dog soap and shampoos to reduce the number of bacteria on the skin of the dog.

Allergens and irritants

Irritants and allergens in the environment will make a dog scratch like crazy until the skin becomes a severely tortured mass of raw and open sores. Incessant scratching will result to the eruption of infected pustules.

Existing health concern

Health concerns like diabetes mellitus can be one of the reasons for many skin disorders. The uncontrolled blood sugar levels and poor circulation give rise to severe skin itching. Boils result when skin is infected with bacteria.


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