This is what a dog paw cyst looks like: a bulbous swelling or lump on dog paw between toes.
When our cyst first appeared my dog had been on high-dose steroids (prednisolone) for almost a year.
It formed right at the end of that godawful period, just as we were tapering off prednisolone.
I didn’t treat it. Here’s what happened.
The photographs chart the progress of my dog’s cyst over a 3-week period.
As you can see, it totally resolved in that time, without any intervention.
Isn’t the body amazing?
This is my understanding of how the dog paw cyst formed, and cleared:
1. Drugs have to be metabolized and processed by organs like the liver and removed by the kidneys.
While Shiva was on the drugs, toxins accumulated in his system.
2. When we reduced and removed the steroids, it gave Shiva’s body a reprieve from that additional load.
Relieved of that burden, the body began to move out the accumulated toxins.
3. The bowels, kidneys, liver and lymphatics are the body’s natural detoxifying systems.
Your dog’s body (like your own) constantly filters out and removes nasties that we encounter in everyday life.
As Shiva’s body kicked into detox gear, the flood of wastes into his circulation temporarily overwhelmed the body’s primary avenues of elimination.
4. The skin is commonly used as a secondary avenue of elimination.
Shiva’s body pushed the surging wastes into the skin.
This mechanism resulted in the dog cyst on paw as the body’s effort to protect the rest of the body by hiving off those toxins.
5. As the body caught up with processing the backlog of wastes, the cyst itself cleared.
In this final step the wastes temporarily dumped in the skin were resorbed and expelled through the regular avenues of elimination, once and for all.
All this happened at the body’s own pace, without any need for home remedies or vet visits.
Dog cysts between the toes are a known symptom of detox, reported by many owners when drugs are stopped or the diet improved.
Where do toxins come from?
Our dogs inhale and absorb toxins from their environment, just like we do.
Herbicides and pesticides on grass at the park.
Fumes from household chemicals.
Off gasses from the paint in our homes.
Even the perfumes and skin creams we wear and that our dogs ingest when they lick our necks and faces.
Other toxins come in the form of drugs, vaccines, chemical wormers and flea or tick preventatives.
Highly processed food is another source of additives the body must work to eliminate.
Artificial preservatives, for instance.
Excess fat in the diet creates another burden that has to be processed and cleared.
While sometimes these toxins cause interdigital cysts dogs might show other symptoms instead.. like eye and ear discharge or skin irritations.
Conventional treatment for interdigital cysts in dogs
Paw cysts in dogs are called interdigital furuncles.
Research them online and you find talk of everything from biopsy to full blown surgical removal of the webbing between the toes.
Laser therapy also comes up.
And, of course, antibiotics.
What causes interdigital cysts on dog paws?
Writing on PetMD, vet Dr. Patty Khuly makes this revealing remark about the veterinary approach to paw cysts:
“The cause of these lesions is multifactorial, which is veterinarese for “we’re not always sure but we think it’s the result of a bunch of things.”
She goes on to list a cavalcade of potential causes.
Poor foot conformation.
Ingrown hairs or other foreign bodies.
She also says paw cysts can appear as symptoms of allergies in dogs.
It really is a grab bag of possibilities, many of which suggest the need for some kind of intervention.
With my own dog, understanding paw cysts in the context of detoxification from previous drugs and misfeeding… helped me to hold fire on any intervention.
I simply gave the body time to do its thing.