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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
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Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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My dog has a swollen paw with a big purple soft lump that feels

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My dog has a swollen paw with a big purple soft lump that feels like an absess on top of his foot almost between his toes. Should I try to drain it or just leave it. He is limping and he does lick it. It is the size of a large marble. He is a big dog - border collie - but bigger than most border collies. He is an outside dog and did encounter a skunk the other day.
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Kara replied 5 years ago.

Hello. I'd like to help. I'm sorry your fella Ryker is uncomfortable. Where is the lump located on his foot and how long has it been present? Does he lick at it quite a bit?

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Does it look like this?

If so it's called an interdigital cyst and they are created due to irritation, often from licking due to allergies or from a puncture wound caused by a foreign body like a grass awn or thorn entering the paw. They are very common in some breeds, bulldogs and staffies being some of the breeds commonly affected.

They can be helped by epsom salt soaks twice daily to relieve inflammation and some respond to topical antibiotic ointments but most need oral antibiotic therapy. Make sure to dry his foot well and apply antibiotic ointment to the lesion after the soak. Do not attempt to puncture or drain the lesion as it isn't an abscess that can be drained, much of the swelling is tissue swelling

You'll need to see his veterinarian for appropriate antibiotics if it comes to that.. Sometimes we need to surgically remove these if they are very stubborn of if they are started by a foreign body like a fox awn or thorn or other plant material penetrating the tissue. Once a dog gets one they are prone to more so I recommend frequent foot soaks in epsom salts as a preventative measure, and checking his paws for bits of plant material or thorns after being outdoors.

Here's a good discussion of them, although antibiotic therapy is recommended right away in this case and I've had some success with soaks if they are caught early enough.


Ideally getting him to stop licking is indicated too so an e-collar may be warranted if he's still licking.

Please feel free to reply to my post with any questions.

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