Sebaceous Cysts In Dogs
Sebaceous cysts are quite common in dogs. A sebaceous cyst is a small cyst or sac which contains the secretions that have been produced by sebaceous (oily) glands. These small cysts are also called wens, epidermal cysts, epidermoid cysts, and epidermal inclusion cysts. They are benign. They don’t cause your dog any pain. And they will often disappear on their own.
Skin has sebaceous glands that keep the skin lubricated. The oily substance that it produces is called sebum. The sebaceous glands have ducts that lead into the hair follicles. If one of these ducts become blocked it can cause a little cyst to form from the accumulation of the sebum which can’t escape. That is a sebaceous or oily cyst.
These cysts can occur with any breed or mix. They happen to dogs of all ages and to both male and female dogs. They are not harmful. They are benign and they don’t hurt your dog.
You can recognize a sebaceous cyst by the following signs:
- They are round and smooth. They can be firm but they can also change in size. They are usually 5 mm up to 5 cm wide. They can be bluish in appearance.
- They may release a gray-white or brown material that has a cheese-like consistency.
- They usually occur on a dog’s head, body, neck, or upper legs.
Your vet can diagnose a sebaceous cyst by doing a fine needle aspiration or inserting a needle into the cyst and removing some cells. Looking at the cells under a microscope can confirm that it is a sebaceous cyst.
Your vet can also perform a biopsy by taking a sample of tissue from the cyst after it has been removed surgically.
In most cases it’s not necessary to treat a sebaceous cyst. They will usually disappear on their own as the sebum is reabsorbed into the body. Or your vet can surgically remove the cyst. In either case, your dog should not have any more problems with the cyst. It won’t return.
If you choose to wait for the sebaceous cyst to go away, keep an eye on it at home to make sure that there are no sudden changes in it. If the cyst should start growing rapidly or changing you should contact your vet and have it surgically removed as these would be indications that it could be malignant.
If your dog seems to be prone to sebaceous cysts or to oily skin or coat, bathe him regularly with a gentle dog shampoo for oily coats. Regular brushing will also help distribute the oils in your dog’s coat and may prevent sebaceous glands from becoming clogged. Make sure that you are feeding your dog a healthy diet. Many skin problems in dogs are due to poor nutrition. Look for a good quality dog food with good sources of protein and fat. Learn to read the ingredient labels on your dog’s food so you will know which foods are good quality and which ones are not.