Bacterial Disease of the Foot in Prairie Dogs

By PetMD Editorial on Sep. 14, 2010

Pododermatitis in Prairie Dogs

Pododermatitis is a condition where a prairie dog’s foot becomes inflamed due to skin irritation. It is caused by bacterial infections, typically Staphylococcus aureus, in which the bacteria enter the prairie dog’s feet through tiny cuts or scrapes. If the pododermatitis infection is not attended to properly and promptly, it may lead to serious complications.


  • Inflammation of the foot
  • Skin abrasions
  • Pus-filled sores on the foot
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Swollen joints


Staphylococ­cus aureus bacteria are often the cause for the development of pododermatitis in prairie dogs, especially captive prairie dogs that have rough or wire cage floors. The bacteria in the environment can then enter the prairie dog's feet through tiny cuts or scrapes.


Your veterinarian can diagnose pododermatitis infection by examining your prairie dog and through laboratory tests. Blood tests may determine the causative agent.


If pododermatitis is detected early, simply giving your pet’s living quarters a smooth bottom, and changing the bedding to softer material may improve the prairie dog's condition. Your veterinarian will likely clean any wounds, clip the hair around the affected areas, and trim any overgrown nails.

Antibiotic ointments can be applied to help heal the affected feet. Soaking the feet in warm, disinfecting solution such as chlorhexidine or dimethyl sulfoxide may also prove to be useful. In severe cases of pododermatitis, prairie dogs may need pain medications.


Make sure that you clean and dress any wounds or sores regularly as well as provide a sanitary living area for your pet. This will help prevent the development of pododermatitis and assist in a quick recovery.

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