Veterinarian Approved on January 11, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford
Perianal fistula is an inflammatory disease that results in fistulous tracts that form around the anus and sometimes inside the rectum. 85 % of all cases occur in German Shepherd Dogs, but other large breed dogs such as the Irish Setter, Collie and Bulldog are also affected. This condition is seen more frequently in un neutered males. The cause of perianal fistulae is unknown although it is thought to be caused by immune disease or infection. In German Shepherd Dogs, these fistula have been associated with colitis. Clinical signs of this conditions include straining, low tail carriage, rectal discharge, lethargy and weight loss . Diagnosis is made by examination and finding the characteristic lesions.
Medical and surgical treatments have been advocated for this condition. In the past, tail amputation was recommended for this condition, but now if surgery is done it is usually laser excision of the fistula. It is successful in 90 percent of the cases. Medical therapies include drugs such as tacrolimus and cyclosporin, both powerful immunosuppressive drugs. Often cyclosporin is combined with antibiotics to increase its effectiveness. Antibiotics and corticosteroids are also used.
From a holistic stand point, these dogs are treated with a variety of different things. A novel diet with a protein the dog has never had before forms the basis of all holistic treatment. Fish oils and herbs are also helpful. One herb of particular note is Slippery Elm ( link is here: ) because it deals with inflammation of the gastro-intestinal tract Probiotics are very important for these cases. Acupuncture and homeopathy have also been successful in treating and managing this condition. Neutering the males is recommended so they do not pass the tendency on and because it causes the anal area to shrink and so there are fewer glands to worry about. This condition can be frustrating to treat but with some patience can have a very good outcome.
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for 28 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan