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German Shepherd Anal Infection

anal infection

Anal Infection (Perianal Fistula or Anal Furunculosis)

Perianal Fistula or Anal Furunculosis is a chronic and painful lesion around the anus. They can form deep and draining ulcers.

Who Gets Anal Infections

Unfortunately, German Shepherds are the main breed to suffer Anal Infections - one study accounted for 84% of the dogs diagnosed. This may be due to the larger number of glands in the perianal area when compared to other breeds, or the way the tail is set and carried.

However, primarily male German Shepherds are affected, and mostly between the age of 5 to 8 years. Nonetheless, once your dog contracts an Anal Infection, it becomes almost always chronic in nature. This means that the standard treatment can get rid of this ailment for the moment, but it is recurring nonetheless.

Warning Signs

Observe if your German Shepherd frequently chews or licks the perianal area, or if your dog scoots the anal area over the ground. In either case, carefully lift your dog's tail and see if there are any ulcers, bleeding, red or black spots, or foul-smelling discharge around the anal area. Note that simply lifting the tail may hurt your dog if the area is infected.

This visual diagnosis is already sufficient, however in addition your dog may show a clearly different potty routine and the looks of the stool may be different too. Some dogs will become lethargic and lose appetite and weight. Because of the discomfort and pain, you may notice a change in behavior of your dog too - potentially up to the point where you have to deal with German Shepherd aggression, even if your GSD was docile before this ailment occured.

Avoiding and Treating Anal Infections

The warm, moist area around the anus and under the tail make an excellent environment for bacteria to multiply, up to the point of an Anal Infection. Hence it is sensible to avoid this by regularly cleansing the anus area of your German Shepherd with a strong antiseptic spray - ideally daily but at least every other day. You may also want to do this if you have a female GSD to help avoid that she might contract an Anal Infection at some point.

You need not worry that daily antiseptic cleaning might harm your German Shepherd's delicate skin, but if you do you can afterwards apply a flimsy coating of ClearSkin-E Cream - which can work wonders on your dog's skin, as well as on your own. Make sure that you and the cloth won't touch the tube after you or the cloth have touched your dog's anal area. Always wash your hands thoroughly with an antiseptic lotion before you apply any care product to your dog, and afterwards again.

Once an Anal Infection occurs, treatment is difficult - as with all chronic diseases. If you notice it early and the condition is mild, you can attempt home treatment: Spray a strong antiseptic wound wash directly around your dog's anus area, three times a day. Continue with this treatment until at least one full week after the infection seems to have disappeared.

Whenever you cleanse the anus area before spraying the antiseptic wound wash, use a lint-free, clean cloth and move from the outer, yet seemingly unaffected areas, to the inner, clearly affected areas in one straight line. Then use a different piece of cloth and repeat, now moving on a different imaginary line. Repeat until you've covered the 360 degrees around and towards the anus. The direction of the movements during cleansing is crucial: Do not spread the bacteria from the clearly more affected area to the yet seemingly unaffected areas!

Do not use the same piece of cloth twice. Therefore, depending on the severity of the infection, you may need to use many pieces of lint-free cloth per cleansing session, hence a huge number of cloths over a three-week treatment period. After each session, burn the bunch of cloths (or dispose of them in a separate sealed bin bag). Do not wash and reuse or deposit them where a dog may nuzzle. Wash your hands thoroughly with an antiseptic lotion.

Conversely, if you feel that your dog's anus area looks bad, it probably is. Visit the vet straight away. However, some vets don't grasp the severity of an Anal Infection, and others simply prescribe their blanket treatment, antibiotics. If you feel that your vet doesn't take the Anal Infection as serious as it is, or if they suggest an unspecific and inappropriate treatment like antibiotics, visit another vet instead.

A final note: It should be obvious that your dog shouldn't be allowed on your bed or the couch. Now you have one more reason why this is so. Unless you have just cleansed the anus area with a strong antiseptic spray, your dog's anus area will be populated with very nasty bacteria - all the time, not just during an Anal Infection.

  16 Responses to “German Shepherd Anal Infection”


    My GSD has this anal disease and although we are trying to keep up with it I was wondering when is it time to consider putting him down. He’s 9 yrs. old and I believe this is something that is draining us both financially and emotionally. I hate to see Bear so down yet How much is too much and is this something that Bear is struggling with. His love of life is gone. He’s just laying around wanting to do nothing. He’s whining all the time and I don’t want him suffering. He is not eating much and doesn’t like people around any more. he’s usually in a corner somewhere wanting to be left alone. I would hate to see him bite someone. So what is your opinion?


      Oh Donna, that sounds not good at all. At 9yrs? I wonder what makes him feel so sad. Are you sure the anal infection is the only cause? Frankly I doubt it. Maybe the medication affects his mood, have you thought about it? What med do you give him? What do you feed him? Did the vet diagnose any underlying diseases (HD, MD, food allergy)?


        Tim, It certainly took me a while to answer back. One issue after another w my GSD Bear. The infection is called Perianal Fistula according to the vet and yes he had him on many antibiotics that will cost me about $250 month to refill. One of the pain meds made him sick so I discontinued that one.. and yes the vet suggested an anti allergy food. When I looked into that it was $114.00 a bag (18.5lb) The infection is growing and smells so bad. We clean him frequently and I did change his food to one that doesn’t contain any corn. A friends dog had same issue and found he was allergic to his food. Bear is eating again but still need to deal w/ infection. I don’t want to put him down yet so I am continually researching this so as to nurse him back to health. The summer is coming and so are many more bacterial health issues.. I am desperate to find help some where for Bear.. he’s a pure Blk Shepherd and a beauty big strong and powerful but this stupid decease is eating him up. what a shame. If a person doesn’t have lots of money they are put in a position to watch their dog slowly deteriorate and die ( according to the vet this WILL kil


    I’m going to get a GSD puppy, was focused on getting a female, but recently found a nice male puppy that I am considering. But after reading this anal infection article, I’m concerned. Should I go with a female and reduce the risk of a dog developing this serious problem? What percentage of GSD males get this disease?
    Thanks for all your great website information and articles!


      Virgel, for determining the gender of dog to adopt, one of the last points I would consider is Anal Infection. Eg the temperament of your chosen pup and of its parents is so much more important to align with your household/family/attitude/interests/exercise (and the adult dog’s temperament may not reveal itself before age 2 years, hence if you can, look at the parents too).

      >What percentage of GSD males get this disease?
      Please see the figure above. BUT note that it almost entirely depends on your future dog’s hygiene whether or not he will contract an anal infection. The other key factor is to strengthen the immune system, not to weaken it with antibiotics and corticosteroids (like millions of dog owners unknowingly do!).

      I am sure you will take care of your dog so well that you personally shouldn’t worry about this subject. Okay?


    I am on the second round of antibiotics for my GSD. She exhibits no other symptoms and is 7 years old. You mention strengthening their immune system above. Can you elaborate? I hope to get this under some type of control soon, it is very disheartening, and would not want her to have other issues if we can avoid them. Thank you.


      Suzanne, topical antibiotics? Which?
      Antibiotics and Corticosteroids ruin the immune system, you probably know that, but see no other chance. Anal Infection indeed is extremely dogged, like I said above. Unfortunately I have no other remedies. If you come across anything better, pl let us know too.

      PS: I believe a big part is hereditary…


    We have an 8 year old female and thought this was the problem when we brought her to the vet he said that it is not a drainage or glad issue that he believes it is a tumor/mass. However she is sweet band happy…I think he is wrong and it is this issue as I had gotten bigger and smaller and has even been on the other side before. Now the big ball like area has three wart looking raised marks and there is is a new open lesion on the other side that has a bit of pus. I’d like to send you a picture if possible to see what you think as we love her and she is family and I want to do right and protect my wife and and daughter from loosing her if possible. Thank you


    I have had my beloved Baron for 7 yrs. About 6 months ago bright red blood started coming out wwheneverhe had a bowel movement! Alarmed, we rushed him to the Vet whose only recommendation was to put him on flagyl and to consistently keep him on the same food, Well after 4 days of the flagyl he started throwing up and refused to eat. I immediately took him off the meds and he recovered in 1 day. Except for the blood , he seems healthy and energetic. Even when he has a bowel movement he seems happy and shows no sign of pain or discomfort He is not lethargic at all and never throws up. I am at a loss…do I take him back to the vet or is there something that I can do for him that doesn’t involve antibiotics. Thank you so much, Any advice will be greatly appreciated,


      OMG, when will “village vets” learn that antibiotics are NOT a blanket treatment for anything!

      At least you were wise to take him off that nonsense quickly, Loren. I am not sure though that your diagnosis is right, Anal Infection, because you don’t mention rectal infection symptoms at all. It rather sounds like he may have worms, possibly hookworm. Details see here.

      Seek out a different vet! An educated vet! Also called holistic vet.


    Would a probiotic help with this anal problem?
    Also would probotics help with; vomiting
    Weepy eye (brown tear tracks)
    Probiotics purchase through a Vet.

    Thank you for your time.


      Probiotics don’t help with AI, no. Only for flatulence, bloat, bad breath, digestion issues, diarrhea, vomiting, and (sometimes) urinary tract infections. Eg the Probiotics on our Dog Care Remedies page are good for all that (and no, you don’t need to get them through a Vet, the linked one is better and only a fraction of the price at a vet).

      For AI I really don’t know any better remedies than mentioned above. If you or anyone else ever come across a reliably effective AI treatment remedy, let us know. With reliably effective I mean: The chronic AI disappears permanently (temporarily successful treatment I know myself, and it’s posted above).

      I would exercise a diligent hygiene schedule as above.


    my gsd is swollen near the anus how do I tell what has caused it and what it is


    For your education, worms aren’t the only cause of bloody diarrhoea and you pointing them out to only consider this is very narrow minded and not in the best interests of the animal. Antibiotics can be an appropriate first choice of therapies especially Flagyl which will also treat Giardia as well as settling the gut lining down due to its anti-inflammatory action. Other first choice therapies would be to do faecal floats, culture and sensitivities but then the owner has to stump up this cost which is far more expensive than to question stuff on an internet forum and get a diagnosis for free. the only thing I agree with is to seek out an educated vet – this doesn’t mean a holistic vet because holistic as an adjective is hopeless misappropriated and could just be someone spouting all natural cures – everything has its place but don’t knock vets because we what we do is backed by evidence based medicine.


      For your education, I never said what you claim. Never make false statements here, just because you scim over texts you find. Anywhere.
      Always aim to STUDY first what you claim to know. Having passed veterinary exams (or not) is a comparatively low achievement.
      Your opinion on antibiotics and holistic would do well with some education too. We actually have Periodicals on all that, substantiated by the top dog experts in the world.
      I just looked, you are not in there, guess why.

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