Perianal fistulas (anal furunculosis) are an immune-mediated disease characterized by a chronic, painful and progressive inflammatory disease of the perianal, anal and perirectal tissue.
Recent studies showing clinical resolution with diet changes emphasizes the important role dietary allergens play in the etiology of this disease.
This disease mainly affects large breed dogs such as the German Shepherd, Irish Setter, Labrador Retriever, Old English Sheepdog and Border Collie. In German Shepherds, an association between perianal fistulas and colitis exists, further emphasizing the role of inflammatory mediators in this disease.
Lesions vary from superficial microscopic fistulas to large ulcerations and sinus tracts. Secondary bacterial infections and anal sacculitis are common.
Clinically affected dogs present with anal licking, yelping when scooting, and increased straining and frequency of defecation.
However, recent understanding of the immune-mediated role of etiology has changed therapeutic approach to this disease, with the use of cyclosporin, 1% topical tacrolimus and ketoconazole showing excellent results in most cases.
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