Chronic Inflammation of the Anus, Rectum or Perineum Region in Dogs

PetMD Editorial
By PetMD Editorial
Published: July 2, 2008
Chronic Inflammation of the Anus, Rectum or Perineum Region in Dogs

Perianal Fistula in Dogs

Perianal fistula is a disorder in which the anus, rectum, and perineal regions of a dog or cat are inflamed and irritated. This disorder is often painful for the animal, as well as progressive.

Dogs and cats are both susceptible to perianal fistulas. If you would like to learn more about how this disorder affects cats, please visit this page in the PetMD health library.


Some of the common symptoms can include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Anorexia
  • Weight loss
  • Constipation
  • Inability to control the bowels (fecal incontinence)
  • Ulcerations in the perianal region


The causes of the inflammation have yet to be clearly defined. The medical condition occurs in all breeds and is not more prone in either gender, but it can be found commonly in male dogs that have not been neutered.

Dogs with a broad tail base, or those that carry it low, are thought to have inflammation in the perianal region because it has less ventilation. There is also a higher incidence of this type of inflammation in dogs that have sweat glands in the region.


Blood tests usually show normal results, so veterinarians often look for inflammation, swelling, infection, and any signs of bacteria in the dog's perianal region. In more serious cases, a biopsy of the area will be performed.


Most treatment options are currently done on an outpatient basis. Warm packing of the area can help, as well as water soothing therapy (hydrotherapy) or cleansing the wound area to prevent infection. The dog's diet can also be modified to include more fiber, which allows for a softer stool and less pain and discomfort when they are removing bodily waste. In addition, stool softeners may be recommended as a dietary supplement for the dog.

If traditional treatment options are not successful, surgery may be required and is used to remove any inflamed or damaged tissue. In some rare instances, the amputation of the dog's tail will be recommended to reduce inflammation and the likelihood of a recurring condition. Drugs to help in the reduction and infection are commonly prescribed, as well to help in the healing.

Living and Management

There are several possible complications of treatment, including:

  • Weight loss
  • Recurrence
  • Fecal incontinence
  • Gas (flatulence)
  • Failure to heal

It is important to monitor the animal's progress, to ensure that they are healing, and that they do not have any serious complications following the treatment.


There are currently no preventative measures for this medical condition.

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