Interdigital Cysts – Rhodes 2 Safety

Interdigital Cysts – Rhodes 2 Safety

OK, that sounds like a scary medical term, so what exactly are interdigital cysts?

In actual fact, the correct term for this problem is Interdigital Furunculosis and you may hear it referred to that way but generally speaking the word cyst is used instead.

If we break the term down into its component parts, we have inter (meaning between), digital (meaning toes or fingers) and cysts being a closed, bladder-like sac formed in animal tissues, containing fluid or semifluid matter.

Therefore, we are simply talking about a fluid-filled lump between the toes which is usually found on the webbing between.  These cysts can be incredibly painful for your dog causing discomfort, irritation and limping as the cyst increases in size and occasionally,  rupture or discharge their fluid.

There are many possible causes for this problem and if its the first time it has happened, have a look around to see if there is anything different in your dog’s surroundings starting with allergies to anything from carpet freshener to even the friction of walking on a new crate tray.  Other triggers include excess weight, poor foot conformation, mites, foreign objects, ingrowing hairs and yeast infections.  Some vets even think that a cyst could really be a fungus that forms between the toes.

Although they are hard to prevent, proper treatment and a good paw exam after each walk should help keep cysts in check.  You are looking for any puncture marks that could have arisen on their walk indicating a foreign body or cut, or any unusual substance on their pads.  Clean the area thoroughly and watch for any signs of allergies or paw nibbling.

While any breed of dog can experience interdigital cysts, Labradors, Bulldogs, allergy-prone and short-haired varieties are more susceptible along with overweight/obese dogs.

To start with, and if you know that this is definitely the condition you are dealing with, I would start with filling the bath with a couple of inches of warm water with Epsom Salts in to soak the paw (for about 10 minutes 3-4 times per day).  Hopefully, after a couple of days you should start to see some improvement in the severity of the cyst.

If not, then your first port of call should really be your vet for a medicated cream such as a combination of antipruritic, antimicrobial, antifungal, and corticosteroid to treat infections and skin disorders caused by bacterial or candidal infections.  It is necessary as a rule to use a systemic medication, ie treating the whole of the body, and this can be with either oral or injectable medications.  If your vet thinks there could be an allergic trigger to the cyst, he may decide to prescribe an antihistamine for your dog too.

Usually, the infection will respond really well to the medication but it can recur very quickly.  Its a good idea to treat these infections with an extended course of antibiotics, perhaps for as long as 6-8 weeks to really get to the bottom of it.  Even then, in some cases it may be necessary to return to the treatment every so often and more infrequently still, it may be used continually to control some stubborn conditions.

On top of the medication your vet will prescribe for you, and as suggested above, it can be very beneficial to soak your dog’s paws in warm Epsom Salts for around 10 minutes, 3-4 times per day.  Remember to pat the area dry when you have finished soaking and don’t let Rover drink any while he’s marinating!!!

If after several weeks of treatment you are getting to the end of your tether with the constant pills, bathing, buster collars and general unpleasantness of the whole thing, it is tempting to try to look for a “quick fix” such as simply removing the whole cyst and the webbing itself between the toes.  Tempting as this is, this will not address the underlying problem.  It is important to remember before going down such an invasive route that removal of the webbing between the toes will degrade the integrity of the entire foot forever.  A strategy of perhaps going for a biopsy or needle aspirate of the cyst itself will allow your vet to send the sample off to pathology and determine the cause.  Once you have the cause, you can hopefully avoid this condition recurring in the future.

Natural Remedies to Help:
It is important that we try to get to the underlying trigger of the cyst as without this, there is a high likelihood that the cyst will return or may reappear on another toe.  However, in the mean time, you can also try the following remedies:

Apple Cider Vinegar is amazing stuff in all kinds of health ways and you can try rinsing the paws with a dilute solution of apple cider vinegar.  Please remember that this does sting so if the sores are oozing or open, then it is essential to make the solution VERY dilute indeed – I’m sure you know how it feels if you are eating salt and vinegar crisps and you get a little seasoning on a cut on your finger!

Still sticking with the apple cider vinegar and thinking from a systemic approach, it is also something you could try adding to their food or water (not all dog’s like the taste however!!)

apple cider vinegar

You could try applying Manuka honey to the sore should you be able to police the wound and stop your furry friend from simply licking it off or you might try Colloidal Silver, adding a few drops to the sores a couple of times a day.


Please remember that interdigital cysts can be quite stubborn and a vet opinion should be sought rather than allowing such a painful condition to continue for any length of time.


  1. Reply
    • Reply

      Does the manuka honey penetrate the sores and make them shrink ?

      • Reply

        Manuka honey is antibacterial and helps wounds to heal by moisturising and keeping them clean and avoiding infection.

  2. Reply

    Where would u buy Manuka honey?

    • Reply

      Manuka can be bought in many places – I’ve even seen it for sale in Aldi! You can certainly get it on line and I know that Holland and Barrett the Health Food Shop always used to stock it so I would imagine they still do too.

  3. Reply

    My dog seems to have something like this had her with the vet he wasn’t to sure what it was said itite be a cyst gave me tablets and told me to bath it and it wouldn’t be the worst thing if it bust I did she stopped lymping ,it didn’t rupture but didn’t go away at the same time last time I was in I asked about it again and the other vet said you’d be reluctant to do anything with it unless she was really effected by it and as the paw doesn’t really heal , she still hops d odd time I think if she hits off it it may be senctive any advice

    • Reply

      Personally, I would be soaking it a couple of times a day in Epsom salts in case she has a foreign body in it. If that doesn’t help, then Id go back to your vet as just leaving it when she is obviously in discomfort isn’t really a suitable answer. She may even require an x-ray to see if there is something in it poor love.

      If she were mine, I wouldn’t be satisfied with that answer from my vet and Id go back and ask for more investigation.

      Good luck.

    • Reply

      My pup had a very painful cyst between his 3rd & 4th toe. The vet had me soak it twice a day, for just 5 days, with a mix of warm water & dissolved epsom salts. He also said it was extremely important to dry the area well, as moisture is not good for this problem.
      My pup didn’t last the whole ten minutes though, So, I soak a thin towel in the warm solution & wrapped his toes & pads. This worked very well. Within the 5 days the cyst had healed enough that he stopped going after it.
      I wash his feet after being outside & keep them clean & dry. So far, alls good.
      The vet said these cysts are very painful. You must keep your dog from licking the painful area, as it will make it worse & can cause more problems. It’s also important to not let your pup lick the eosom water, as it can cause Diarrhea. Good luck

      • Reply

        Brilliant. Im so pleased your pup had a positive result. Well done and thank you for sharing x

  4. Reply

    I’m at my wits end with my poor dogs cysts , he’s been under the vet for the best part of 6 months.. when he’s not asleep he’s licking his paws .. he has had course after course of antibiotics and they don’t really make a difference.. I’ve try the Epsom salts . No change .. his nails are getting very long now as he won’t let me near his feet (understandably) so that is a problem in it self .. any other ideas I can try ?

    • Reply

      Hi Hidi, what a nightmare for you all.

      Well, I think sometimes the licking is triggered by diet. Often, the diet can cause allergic reactions and/or yeast overload. In most cases, the trigger for this is chicken or cereal. My first suggestion would be to look at what you are feeding and if there is chicken or grain in it, cut those out and see if they help.

      The other thing is in relation to his claws. If he wont allow you to touch them, have him file them himself by teaching him to use a scratch board. It is very easy both to teach and to do and the dogs do love it. Here’s the blog I wrote on it which may help at least with that aspect of his care:

      Best wishes and good luck

    • Reply

      My dog has the same problem. I can sympathize with your frustration. Here is what has and has not worked for us.
      My dog (female American Bulldog mix) developed an interdigital cyst aka interdigital furuncle. Vet sliced it open (painful and scary) and did a biopsy. We tried antibiotics, soaking, and a second vet opinion etc.
      finally we figured out she is allergic to many foods and once we identified and removed the foods the issue resolved. My dog is allergic to chicken, duck, turkey, carrots, potatoes and sweet potatoes. I don’t t know what breed your dog is. You didn’t say. But, I would suggest an elimination diet to see if your dog has food allergies. And please don’t try those hydrologic diets some vets recommend: they’re junk.
      I am here today because the problem is back and this time it ruptured while my dog was running in the yard. And guess what she has been doing for the past some weeks? Sneaking into the cats food (chicken!).
      Although many vets recommend antibiotic therapy, we tried it and it didn’t really help. Also, antibiotic use is hard on the body.
      I purchased some medical grade manuka honey UMF 16. I am currently administering it to her orally at 1 tsp 3 x day and topically on the wound. I started this today. Hoping it will help.
      Good luck with your dog. I hope the problem has resolved. These interdigital furuncles are a serious pain in the you know what to treat!

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