Bumblefoot treatment and identification

bumblefoot treatment

Whether it’s bunny paws, chicken feet or guinea pig foot pads, even the smallest of critters can suffer from foot ache. So if your friend is showing signs of discomfort when walking, take a closer look  because it might just be the first sign of bumblefoot. In this article we look at bumblefoot treatment and identification: what it is, symptoms to look out for, as well as how to treat and prevent it in the future.

What is bumblefoot?

Bumblefoot is a condition that comes about as a result of bacterial infection on the feet of afflicted animals. The bacterial strains most commonly associated with bumblefoot include E. coli, and Staphylococcus strains like S. Aureus, among others. It is also known as ulcerative pododermatitis, plantar pododermatitis, paw burns, sore hocks or foot pad dermatitis.

Although it starts off as limping or lameness accompanied with hair loss and possibly small sores on your pet’s foot, the infection and resulting inflammation can have painful and severe repercussions if not treated correctly and quickly.

Which animals get bumblefoot?

Although bumblefoot is common in chickens, they are not the only species to have to contend with the condition. Many other birds, rodents, rabbits and other animals may suffer from the infection as well. Captive animals and pets also often show signs of bumblefoot more than animals found in the wild. This is commonly because of poor animal husbandry practices.

Signs and symptoms of bumblefoot

  1. The first stage of the infection, the afflicted animal may show signs of hair loss in the case of rabbits and rodents, and other first signs may be seen on the hocks or pads of feet. This includes shiny, swollen skin or the presence of small sores.
  2. Animals at this stage of the disease may show signs of swelling and discoloration on the hocks or feet. The previously stated hair loss may also be present.
  3. With the progression of this condition comes the abscess stage where broken skin and ulceration is likely to occur. This provides a site for infection.
  4. Infection and inflammation is likely to progress quickly at this stage of the condition, with the deeper tissue becoming infected.
  5.  This is the most severe stage of the disease. Animals at this stage of the infection are most likely to show signs of swollen joint tissue, inflammation of the tendons, abnormal gait, stance and posture. Pododermatitis at this stage is also highly likely to have progressed to bone marrow infection or infection of the bone.

Other symptoms of bumblefoot may include unwillingness to walk, signs of discomfort or pain, unwillingness to eat, weight gain due to lack of movement and exercise, and agitation, with more serious cases leading to deformity of the foot or death of the animal.


Bumblefoot presents many of the same signs and symptoms as other conditions like abscesses or other infections. Taking your pet to their veterinarian for a professional diagnosis is recommended, to ensure that the condition is not misdiagnosed and can be treated effectively.

Treatment for bumblefoot

Bumblefoot exhibits a range of symptoms and severity as the infection progresses. Because of this, treatment of the condition depends on the stage of the disease.

  • Treating bumblefoot during early stages of the disease involves reducing swelling and discomfort. It often involves a foot soak in a disinfectant solution like VetMed and thereafter carefully drying and bandaging the foot. Repeat this process every couple of days as the foot heals.
  • A progressed disease state may require surgery to remove the lesion and dead tissue, and antibiotics may also be prescribed. It is recommended that this procedure be performed by a veterinarian.
  • A good practice includes ensuring that the wound is cleaned often with a disinfectant like VetMed. The bandage should be changed as prescribed by the veterinarian, and protected from further injury while healing.
  • Your pet should be kept separate from any other animals and in a clean and dry environment while being treated. This is to minimise the risk of spreading the infection.

Preventing bumblefoot

As ever, prevention is better than cure. Bumblefoot is painful for the afflicted animal, and takes time to heal correctly. Here are a few preventive tips to ensuring your pets stay healthy and happy.

  • Ensure a clean living space free of wire, splinters, or anything else with the potential to cause sores or abrasions.
  • Provide dry and clean bedding and floor area. Damp or dirty bedding and litter becomes a breeding ground for bacterial growth.
  • Provide the correct diet and ensure that your animal does not become overweight or obese. Obesity causes extra pressure being placed on the animal’s foot, potentially leading to pressure sores.
  • Trim talons and claws when necessary. This ensures that they do not cause wounds on other animals due to scraping or scratching.
  • Generally just keep an eye on any visible sores and wounds and treat them quickly. A disinfectant solution like VetMed helps to prevent bacterial infection or inflammation.

As ever, VetMed is here to help, so if you feel the need to stock up on our products, you can get in contact with us here.