Could Your Dog Have Panniculitis?

dog health

In an ongoing effort to share real news from real dog parents in order to help Fidose of Reality readers, today we proudly present a true story of a life-threatening illness that plagued Thurmie, the Dachshund of Devri King of Kansas. Here, in her own words and pictures, Devri shares the tale of Thurmie’s panniculitis diagnosis.

In early April of this year, I noticed a large lump on my dog’s cheek. I immediately took him to our vet. It was identified as an abscess, and he was running a temperature of 103.9, so it was decided that he would need to spend the night in the Animal ER for monitoring. The next morning, I took him back to the vet, who lacerated the lump open, putting in two stitches and leaving the rest open to drain. It didn’t drain.

panniculitis
Thurmie with the first lump on his cheek.

At this point, several other smaller lumps appeared on various spots of his body. A deeper laceration was done on the lump on his cheek, and a drain tube was inserted. A little bit of the fluid that was in the abscess drained, but the tissue around it was hardening. The vet took cultures and biopsies of several of the lumps in the attempt to find out what was going on. In all, a total of probably 15 lumps had developed all over his little body.

panniculitis dog
Another lump on Thurmie’s body.

On May 22, after several other little lacerations, and after the vet consulted with a specialist at Kansas State University, Thurman was diagnosed with Sterile Nodular Panniculitis. It is an immune system deficiency, with no cause identified. (There was no bacteria in any of Thurman’s biopsies or cultures.) He began his treatment that very day, May 22, and within a few days, the three lumps that had developed in his groin area were completely gone.

Thurman’s treatment began with Cyclosporine and Prednisone, twice a day. He was going in for weekly check ups, then every other week, now every four weeks. His medication dose has been dropped down also, to the Cyclosporine once a day, and the Prednisone (a very low dose) every other day. This regimen will continue to be cut down with his progress, which has been nothing short of miraculous. No lumps have returned since the day treatment began.

dog lump
One of the lumps after it burst.

I wanted to give you all the details before I went into why I am writing this article. I am doing so because I wanted to point out that in the link listed above, it states that this condition is common in Dachshunds. Although I have not come across any other Dachshund owner who has encountered this condition, I wanted to share our experience with you all so that you would have information on this particular disease. Like IVDD, it is not a death sentence. In fact, with Thurman, it has been quite the opposite. Yes, we have had to change a few things in our daily routine with him, but it isn’t/wasn’t anything that we weren’t willing to do to make this as easy for Thurman as we could. He is in no discomfort or pain. Although he has some battle wounds from the lumps, he has been a true champ in his recovery.

dog drain
One of the drains

Thurman has always been a very happy, very active dog. He LOVES to run! He runs in several “wiener dog races” throughout our state. He has done so for several years. All I have to do is say the words “You ready to run fast?” and he is completely focused and ready! In fact, when he had the dreaded “cone of shame” on with the drain tube, he was still running in the backyard like lightening! His zest for life has certainly helped him conquer this disease and tackle it with pride. He has learned several new things and words, too – “shade”, because the heat gets to him more now that his immune system is down; “pill”, because one of his pills is large and I put it in a baby spoon scoop of peanut butter; “check up”, because I didn’t want him to associate going to the vet with another laceration; “feel”, because I have to do regular “feelings” at home to make sure no lumps have appeared. (Dachshunds are the smartest breed, right?!)

Panniculitis
Scars today.

Living with this condition has certainly been an eye-opener to us. We have learned so many new things about raising a dog. I encourage you to go to the link provided and at least read about this disease so you will have some knowledge. Just in case. Education never hurt anyone. I also encourage you to develop a close and personal relationship with your vet and their assistants. Our vet/vets/vets assistants have been absolutely spectacular with treating Thurman’s condition. It says a lot when you can say to your dog “You get to go see doc today!” and they are jumping with joy!

Please feel free to contact me at devri.king@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Editor’s Note: For more information about Sterile Nodular Panniculitis, please visit this link from our friends at petMD.

If you ever find a lump or bump on your dog, here’s more about that topic, too.

Never attempt to self-diagnose and always seek veterinary care and treatment for your pet. The opinions and results above are indicative for this dog and we cannot make the same claims nor guarantee for your pet.

Comments

    • Thank you Sharon. He has definitely taught me the true meaning of the word tough! He is doing amazing with treatment and we have our paws crossed that if all goes well, and no lumps return, then he’ll be able to be off the meds by the end of the year! #nolumpclub

  1. Wow. I’ve never heard of this before. Sounds painful. I’m glad it is clearing up, though. If there is no known cause and it is common in Dachshunds, is it safe to say that it might be a hereditary condition?

  2. Here’s my story…

    Just got the same diagnosis for my 6 yr old Catahoula pup early this week. This started in May 2014 with a lump and surgery…with the results coming back negative for pretty much anything. At the time, it was discussed that it was a possible foreign object, such as a grass or thorn. About a month ago I started noticing a couple obvious indentations…. Turns out those were sores that already went through the process with out showing any obvious visible lumps. (Kinda like how bad acne can cause indents on human faces) My Vet has been fantastic and consulted with other vets for additional thoughts, facts & opinions. Sort of a Round table of local vets 🙂
    Final answer: STERILE PANNICULITIS
    Grateful to have an official (well sort of, lol) answer and will begin treatment tonight now that I have the medications ready.
    Your story helps me to feel a little better about her prognosis. Thank You

    WARNING: The medicine cyclosporin (Atopica), is expensive. Be sure to price check many pharmacies locally and online before you settle with just one. You’ll be surprised at the variety of results.

    • Jean, sorry to hear of your pup’s diagnosis. Please know that this is a manageable disease, and with the proper medication, the lumps will go away. Thurmie had a couple of the “non-obvious” indentations, too, under his armpit. I just thought it was acne. Doc ended up doing biopsies on those, too. He responded very well to treatment. He goes back for a check up on Nov. 14. If still no lumps, Doc will begin to wean him off the Cyclosporine – taking him down to one pill every other day, then so on and so forth til he can go completely off it. If lumps re-appear, he will have to go back on the med permanently, but our paws are crossed that doesn’t happen. Our stories are so very similar – Thurman diagnosed in May – same ages. Please feel free to email me if you’d like to share pics/stories/recovery. I’d love to chat with you. devri.king@gmail.com Paw prayers to you and your pup.

      • Hello. My pup was just diagnosed with this today. He has bacteria under his skin however. So we will be treating with antibiotics, vitamin e, and steroid. Did your pup stop eating or become finicky? Also did he appear thin? My dog appears thin, but has only lost 3 pounds. He’s a 60 pound lab, basset mix. Also thank you for sharing I’m feeling a little helpless as this condition is rare.

  3. Yup my shih tsu/poodle had it back in 2010………..Pretty bad at that time….I had to see a internist pet dr…..NOw it seems like it made a return again in 2014….we shall see as he can not take predinone this time…

  4. After 3 months of tests my Lilly Grace was diagnosed with this. The doggie derma prescribed her Atopica and she is not handling it well. They said that I would not see any results until about the third week of use so I am patiently waiting. Lilly Grace is a 5 pound maltese.

    • Whitney,

      Thurman is on Cyclosporine, the same as Atopica. He has done remarkably well on it. He had 3 small lumps on the inside of his left groin area, and 2 days after he started the treatment, they were gone. I am sending sweet Lilly Grace paw prayers and hugs for a speedy recovery. If you need to talk, please feel free to email me at devri.king@gmail.com. You aren’t alone sweetie. This is treatable.

      • Greetings Devri,

        Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you…..Lilly has been on Atopica for approx. 2 months now and the lumps are gone for the most part. However, she was diagnosed with staph a few weeks back. I do not know if this is an outcome of the Atopica but it seems to be one thing after another with her… at least with her skin that is. She is now on the Atopica, Baytril (antibiotic), and chlorhexidine shampoo (which I have to bathe her with every other day). Both her vets (original and derma) are pretty confident that she will have to be on the Atopica for the rest of her life. She is finally getting back to normal and is gaining her weight back but it has been a long road to recovery. One thing is for sure, I wish I would have purchased pet insurance.

        • I will continue to say paw prayers for sweet Lilly, Whitney. I know how discouraged one can get. Thurman has done remarkable on the treatment. He was just taken down to one Cyclosporine pill every Wednesday and Saturday for 60 days. If all goes well, and nothing else recurs, then he will be taken off the medication completely. I’m a nervous wreck about it because I don’t ever want to see another lump again, but I pray daily that we never will. If we do, then he will be put back on the Cyclo for life. I know that I did start him on Liver/Kidney supplements when he started taking all this medication, too. We don’t have insurance either. However, I have a separate savings account for the dogs. Again, continued paw prayers for sweet Lilly. If you need to talk, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You aren’t alone.

  5. Great article. Our 2-year old mini-ish dachshund Frank was diagnosed with this awful disease this past year.

    Honestly, the biggest relief we had was after $3000 of vet visits and a little minor surgical lump removal was finding out what he actually had. We thought we were going to lose him, when we took him to a specialist who diagnosed him with it and got him on prednisone. The prednisone has saved his life. He started off at 5mg per day in the beginning but we started tapering him off with the guidance of the vet and now he’s down to 2.5mg every other day, hopefully next week we can get him down to 1.25mg every other day.

    My wife and I check him almost obsessively now to see if it recurs. Initially it started off as a scrotal infection (he’s neutered) and he ended up having lumps on one of his leg muscles in the front and also a pocket of fluid in his chest. His symptoms rapidly became worse. He was constantly licking his lips, could not bark, could not fully yawn, and was completely lethargic. Wouldn’t get out of his bed.

    Even today as he has a bad day we’re scared that it’ll come back. We find comfort in actually knowing what happened to him, and knowing that it can be medicated, but we really don’t want him to be on prednisone long-term as he’s gained a ton of weight (~4-5lbs) and it just can’t be healthy. Our fingers will be crossed for Frank for the rest of his life.

  6. Our 8 yr old havanese “ellie-Mae” was diagnosed with this sterile modular panniculitus 7 mo. ago. It has been a terrible journey with no good results as of yet. We started with biopsies , niacinamide, doxycycline,then major surgery all across her body from shoulder to shoulder to remove multiple nodules. 4 days after surgery at end of incision a puffiness appeared needless to say shortly after that
    the nodules reappeared. Treatment of prednisone and atopica were started , we’ve been to doggie dermatologist, biopsies sent out to Denver co. For micro testing . Nodules follow the incision from shoulder to shoulder, Nodules become large and hard, then erupt and drain, Ellie loses appetite even on prednisone . Making it very difficult to administer medicine with no food in stomach. She has very little relief because nodules are on both shoulders and it seems like one is always draining causing her to lick and scratch even with a shirt on. She get most relief when given a bath . She eats ice all the time. We are exhausted just watching our precious dog deteriate. Don’t know what else to say this is a horrible idiopathic disease. Longing for some good news..

  7. My dog was diagnosed with this on December 22nd. She is still wearing the cone and will get stitches out on January 8th. She is 2 1/2 years old – a Goldendoodle. She is on a high dose of Prednisone. She has had some accidents in the house since being on the medicine. We are worried and young kids are afraid of her as her wound is very large. It started with a small lump and then she started ripping out her fur. It was very scary. We are hopeful she can eventually be without the medicine and live a long, healthy life!

    • Our Aussie was misdiagnosed for four months before proper diagnosis. He had sores all over his body. Atopica along with prednisone cleared him up in no time. Unfortunately your girl will more than likely have to be on medicines for life. What our Vet was able to do was wean Buddie off of prednisone but stayed on the Atopica. He had no more bumps and pustular. Buddie was 14yrs old and unfortunately had a very large tumor that was inoperable so we finally had to put him to sleep a few months ago but not from the panniculitis.

      Atopica and another medicine was extremely expensive. I found Allivet online pet rx and I saved a lot of money. Don’t let the vet tell they can’t or won’t ok you getting medicine from an online source. They have to by law if they prescribed it.

    • I don’t rightly remember the cost of Dolly’s meds, but it was plenty to pay
      for it. She was on Prednisone for about a couple years, then finally off
      of it. I have not heard any mention of her needing of Atopica as of yet. She
      acts as though she’s never had a problem, and is as active as she was
      when a puppy. They never made any mention of a medication order
      being any less cost., And they should have.

  8. My mini dachshund Reign was just diagnosed with this last week. 2 lumps appeared and 1 of them started draining we decided to have the lumps removed. We were scared to death because she had a hind leg amputated in June. (The amputation is a long story and we still don’t know what caused everything that lead up to it) Our vet sent the lumps out and was shocked that this is was what were. She is a healthy and active 8 year old that her blood work was perfect and she showed no signs of being sick besides the lumps. Today she had the stitches removed and we will be starting treatment next week so she has more time to heal from surgery. As sad as it is I was relieved to have a name for it even though we will never what caused it. Her case doesn’t seem as severe as others that I’ve read. I was shocked to find this story about another black and tan dachshund! I hope he is still doing well!!

    • Heather, I’m sorry to hear of your pups diagnosis. Please know this isn’t a death sentence. As disheartening as it is to not know what the cause is, at least we know it’s treatable. Please feel free to email me at devri.king@gmail.com if you’d like to discuss it. My sweet Thurman is doing remarkable. Our Doc has named him The Miracle Dog!

  9. Hi y’all, my mini dachshund Khloe was just diagnosed with this. It started a couple weeks ago after I took her to the vet for pain and unable to walk on right front leg. She was prescribed Meloxicam for pain. A few days later I noticed a lump on shoulder of same leg, and a few lesions that had clear bloody fluid coming out. The vet then prescribed an antibiotic. The next day several more lesions appeared. Her strength was getting weaker and appetite was none. She could hardly walk or move her body. I then decided on a second opinion. Drove to Cy-Fair Vet Hospital in Houston.They did cultures and a bibiopsy. Immediately stopped her pain meds and antibiotics….which might have been a reaction causing lesions. Waiting patiently on lab results. My Khloe girl has wenow shed the cone of shame, decreasing her prednisone dosage, and getting her staples out. I pray this is not a reoccurring disease. Khloe is now able tocurl back up into a ball and snuggle with me. Her tail wags and her appetite is strong again. I know its discouraging, but pray and know that your not alone. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
    In the meantime. ….you and your furry friend tune in to Animal Planet and watch “The Vet Life”. Khloe’s doctor is Dr. Lavigne, one of the three best vetrinarians in Houston Metro area.
    Love to y’all from Khloe and I.

  10. Hi one of my Maltese, Jessie been diagnose of paniculitis since October 2016. The vet prescribe her Atopica. Bump gone but came back again in a months. We do not know whether the food diet ( they used to be on wet can food, but then change to dry dog food, but my mother in law totally against it so they went back to wet can food) I know, keep changing food is not good for them. So now the dogs in cook hamburger and chicken diet now.
    Forget to mention this 2 Maltese are my mother in law pet. But she have depression all the time and I don’t know whether it will effect the dogs or not.
    And now the second Maltese Betsy also have the similar symptom too. And Betsy just have this symptom this month. Not to mention both of this dogs are sisters.
    So I would like to know how you take care your dogs and how is he doing now? Cause they both are fine but with lump on them. And my mother in law just so sad and depress all the time thinking wanna put them to sleep.
    Jessie seem will be on Atopica in her whole life. Cause seem to help her.
    Thanks for any sort of reply will be greatly appreciated.

  11. My Oscar Mayer was diagnosed with Sterile Panniculitis in March of this year just after his 3rd birthday. It started with a large patch at the base of his tail and literally moved.. Yes it travels. It moved up his back and to his right shoulder. All remaining isolated on his right side. This was in January of this year. My vet started him on antibiotics in the beginning thinking it was a staph infection. He too had a fever but has experiened sensitivity to the touch. In march a biopsy was done which turned out to be surgical removal of the large legion that had moved back to its original origin his( lower back) leaving him with 15 staples. My vet diagnosed this as Sterile Panniculitis. We got NC State Veterinary School involed and they are currently assisting us with treatment. Oscar has had times of intense pain that he cannot be touched . the pain is in waves and last 15 to 18 minutes and can be described as a seizure of sorts only he is screaming in pain but is fully aware of whats going on around him. So its not really a seizure its pain. He has not had any lesions surface or burst or any that had to be drained. I am so happy to find someone eles that understands this disease. No its not a death sentence, but I think it probably effects dogs in different ways from your discription of how it affects your baby. We had another eppisode during the night last night very sensitive skin and did not want to be touched but no extreme pain. Thank you for making this blog available for people that may not know about Panniculitis.
    You can follow Oscar on facebook to learn more of his progress his page is
    Oscar Mayer

  12. Hi, my dachshund/Jack Russell mix, Pete is currently being treated for sterile panniculitis at VSH in Cary, NC. He’s 3 years old and ordinarily a bundle of energy, but in late June 2017, we noticed one of his eyes looked like it had a scratch, it was red and watery. After a couple of trips to our primary care vet, it was still not healing. We went to a vet opthomologist and were told it was immune scleritis. This is how our story began…
    Soon after, Pete became lame on his back legs and developed tremors, either from fever or pain, then we noticed several lumps of varying sizes on his underside. After many bloodtests, ultrasound, needle aspirations and finally a biopsy of one of the larger lumps, it was determined he has panniculitus, thankfully without pancreatitis. He’s now on prednisone, some of the lumps have gone away, but there are some new small ones appearing, we have a follow up appt. with the internal med specialist at VSH next week. I cannot say enough good things about VSH, they have been great. (expensive, but worth it)
    I was so happy to find this blog to see other’s experiences with this and reassurance that he can have a nornal life once again.

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