Canine Idiopathic Sterile Nodular Panniculitis.


One of our Holidays4Dogs carers suggested this as a subject for an article on canine health. Our carer was looking after Charlie the dog who had been quite poorly with this condition. Poor Charlie had a lot of abscesses that would not heal, resulting in a very long course of antibiotics. Thankfully, after a lot of tests and analysis, Charlie’s vet eventually got to the bottom of the problem.

The disease is relatively rare and generally given little attention in veterinary literature. However, some academics believe it could be more common than first thought. Miniature dachshunds, poodles and corgis are all predisposed to this condition. This suggests a genetic factor in the development of the disease.

What is Canine Panniculitis?

Panniculitis is a condition affecting the layer of fat beneath the skin resulting in inflammation. As a result, it is thought the blood flow beneath the skin is disrupted, which then affects the fat layer below the surface of the skin. It is a condition which can affect cats, as well as dogs.

The inflammation results in spots and nodules on the surface of the skin. The nodules can be soft, or firm, and often painful. The spots can readily burst, releasing an oily discharge which can be clear, brown, or blood coloured. Lesions commonly occur on the head, neck, chest and abdomen of the affected animal. The nodules can vary in size and spread.


The condition is ‘idiopathic’- meaning, it is not known how the dog came to suffer the condition. However, some experts speculate the causes might be vitamin E deficiency, or autoimmune conditions.


Diagnosis of the condition is via skin scrapings. This will identify any underlying infections. Another key point, is to find out if the dog is suffering from other underlying health conditions such as pancreatitis.

Additionally, the dog’s past medication history is also relevant.

Treatment usually consists of steroids. Some experts suggest Vitamin E may be helpful.