What is Stud Tail?
It is very common for stud tail in dogs to become infected (pyoderma), which is one of the most commonly treated skin conditions in dogs. It is a secondary bacterial infection of the skin and hair follicles that is easily treated with antibacterial shampoo and medication. The symptoms of pyoderma infection are redness, swelling, and crusty lesions. It can also cause hair loss and permanent baldness if not treated right away. Without treatment, the infection can spread into the deeper layers of skin where it may result in septicemia. Although this is rare, it is life-threatening so it should be considered.
The supracaudal gland (violet gland), which is found on a dog’s tail, secretes oils, lipids, and protein. Sometimes, this gland secretes too much androgen, which can raise levels and can cause a bare spot in that area called stud tail (supracaudal gland hyperplasia). This spot may be greasy or oily and can block the pores, causing blackheads and inviting infection. The reason for the overactivity is unknown, but it is thought to have something to do with marking their territory by leaving their scent. Stud tail can be very irritating to your dog. This infection is called pyoderma and will need to be treated by a veterinary professional.
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Symptoms of Stud Tail in Dogs
The symptoms of stud tail in dogs vary quite a bit depending on the breed, age, and amount of androgen secreted. In some dogs, there may be no irritation or redness at all unless it gets infected, which is common. The most often reported symptoms are:
- Bald patch on tail that may be a greasy spot
- Inflammation (bulge) of the tail in affected area
- Oily dark patch on tail
- Matted hair at the base of the tail
- Foul odor and redness if infected
There is only one type of stud tail, but the secondary infection may be caused by one of these organisms:
- E. Coli
Causes of Stud Tail in Dogs
While the cause of stud tail is not completely understood, the most common causes seem to be:
- Overactive androgen levels
- Fleas or other parasites that block the gland
Diagnosis of Stud Tail in Dogs
Your veterinarian will need to know your dog’s health history and whether you have given him any medications. It is also necessary to do a comprehensive physical examination, which should include a detailed skin and coat assessment, vital signs, palpation, and auscultation. A skin scraping will be taken for cytological analysis. Bacterial and fungal cultures, antibiotic sensitivity tests, chemical blood analysis, urinalysis, fecal examination, and complete blood counts are also important to make sure your dog does not have any underlying conditions that need treatment. The veterinarian may also decide to do a biopsy by taking a small piece of tissue from the area to examine under a microscope. Other tests your veterinarian may consider are x-rays, ultrasound, or CT scans to rule out other disorders.
Treatment of Stud Tail in Dogs
If your dog’s stud tail is not infected, the veterinarian may decide just to use topical ointment and antibacterial shampoo. However, if your dog has any sign of infection, the veterinarian will most likely give him an antibiotic injection.
There are several types of antibiotics that your veterinarian can use to help get rid of pyoderma such as amoxicillin, doxycycline, tetracycline, cephalexin, or ciprofloxacin. Any of these can be given by mouth or injection. If using an oral antibiotic, three to six weeks is necessary, depending on the severity of the infection. The type of antibiotic depends on the type of organism that is causing the infection such as E. Coli, Corynebacterium, Micrococcus, Proteus, Staphylococci, or Streptococci. In addition, a corticosteroid injection can help reduce the inflammation and itching. Topical ointment or cream will also be prescribed for use three times per day.
Another important part of treating both stud tail and pyoderma infection is antibacterial shampoo. Some of the types of shampoo include antiseborrheic shampoos with chlorhexidine or benzoyl peroxide. This should be used on the affected area at least two times a day.
Removal of the Gland
In severe cases of recurrent infection, surgery to remove the gland will be done. However, this is not common and only done in severe cases.
Recovery of Stud Tail in Dogs
Stud tail is usually not a serious illness, but the secondary infection can get severe if not treated. If your dog is treated right away, the prognosis is excellent. However, there are cases when the infection does not respond or it spreads deeper into the skin. In these cases, the infection can spread to the blood (septicemia), which is life-threatening. Treatment must be given immediately and the recovery may take longer, but with care, the prognosis is still good.
Stud Tail Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
I have a 9 year old neutered Catahoula with allergies which are being treated with apoquel. About once a year he smells terrible for several weeks. I finally figured out where the smell is coming from...it is where his tail bone and tail meet. There is no hair loss or scabby or oily skin just the smell. What do you think?
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Hi there, my Irish Wolfhound has developed stud tail. It is not affecting him in any way other than it looks like a bare triangle on his tail. It is not infected, doesn't itch and isn't oily. I am worried about the costs of curing this in my boy. I don't want to leave it, but am disabled and on a basic pension. I do not want to take up credit, so need to know approximately how much this will take to treat, so I can try to get the money together. I don't think my vet allows a payment scheme, sadly. Many thanks for your advice.
A simple case of stud tail (it doesn’t sound infected or a severe case) could be managed successfully with a medicated shampoo (benzoyl peroxidase) which you can pick up from a pet shop. Regular cleaning of the affected area only (no need to bathe the whole dog) twice a day should help; if you see no improvement over a few weeks, you should visit your Veterinarian. The cost for treatment by your Veterinarian will vary and dependent on the underlying cause, but budget around $500 depending on your location, for a more accurate quotation call your Veterinarian’s Office. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM
Callum, get a grip!
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