Sebaceous cyst on dog tail, paw, head, and back – causes and removal

A sebaceous cyst on dog’s skin may be worrisome to pet owners but it is usually benign (non-cancerous) and therefore not a health concern unless it gets ruptured and infected, or impacts on your dog’s quality of life. In that case, your furry friend would benefit from medical treatment and possibly surgical removal. It is still a good idea to have a vet assess the cyst.

What Is A Sebaceous Cyst on Dog Skin?

A sebaceous cyst is a small fluid filled or semi-solid sac beneath the surface of a dog’s skin comprising of sebum and other materials such as dead cells, sweat, etc. Other names used to refer sebaceous cysts are epidermal inclusion cysts, epidermoid cysts, wens, and epidermal cysts. You may see some people describing sebaceous cyst as a sebaceous pimple.

sebaceous cyst on dog`s kin
sebaceous cyst on dog’s kin

Sebaceous cysts can appear anywhere on your dog’s skin including the back, stomach, legs, neck, paws (interdigital cysts), tail, anus, and head (on the ears, eyelids, nose). A Sebaceous cyst on dog’s skin is not a cause for concern- the cysts are usually benign (non-cancerous) and clears away without treatment in most cases but they may tend to resurface on and off.

Video: PUScam!! Beware!! Graphic!! K9 with sebaceous cyst lanced on bridge of nose in SloMo

All dog breeds can get sebaceous cysts but the Cock Spaniel is particularly susceptible to them according to T. J. Dunn, DVM, a veterinarian based in the Naples, Florida.

What Does A Sebaceous Cyst On A Dog Look Like?

A sebaceous cyst is a small, pale, benign (non-cancerous) and painless growths (bumps) within the skin that look like a small volcano. It may continue to grow slowly over time. It is commonly whitish in color but may have a slight blue streak. The cyst feels like a circular or oval formation beneath the skin when touched.

Although usually painless, a sebaceous cyst can become infected and turn sore, tender and red. An infected canine sebaceous cyst also makes the affected area feel warm to touch. If it ruptures, the cyst may give a grayish white, brownish, or cottage cheese like discharge which gives an offensive smell.

What Causes Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

Now that you have an idea what a sebaceous cyst on dog’s skin is you may be wondering what causes it and how you can remove it. Well, each skin pore comprise of a hair follicle that is surrounded by tiny oil glands called sebaceous glands.

These glands produce an oily substance called sebum to keep dog’s skin and fur lubricated and lustrous. Sebaceous glands ducts drain into the hair follicles as shown in the diagram below:

structure of the skin
structure of the skin

A dog sebaceous cyst (or canine sebaceous cyst if you like) is thought to develop when a hair follicle (and hence the skin pore) gets blocked by scar tissue, debris, dirt, or as a result of infection, leading to an abnormal accumulation of sebum. When produced in too-thick a texture, sebum could also plug the hair follicles and skin pores leading to the formation of a sebaceous cyst on dog’s skin.

A canine sebaceous cyst may or may not have a visible hair in its centre and typically grows slowly. Your furry friend can get one or more cysts at a time. Others get these cysts on a recurring basis.

Ruptured Dog Sebaceous Cysts

As Dr. Becker writes on, a sebaceous cyst will take on one of three paths: resolving on its own, getting walled off, and rupturing.

A sebaceous cyst is said to wall off when it turns into a small bump that feels like a small pea beneath the skin. Such a cyst will not heal away since it is walled off, but on a positive note, it will also not cause any problems. The best option is to let it be.

A ruptured sebaceous cyst simply means that it came to a head and burst open to release its content.

This opens it to the outside world which often leads to infection. Infected sebaceous cysts ooze a foul smelling discharge. This is usually a cottage-cheese like substance but it can also appear thick, dark, and waxy.

If a dog sebaceous cyst bursts open, the best course of action is to keep it clean. Disinfect the area numerous times each day as Dr. Becker writes. When disinfected properly, ruptured cysts clear up within a few days.

Dog sebaceous cysts can also burst below the skin, spilling its content into the area surrounding them. When that happens, the affected area turns red and itchy causing the dog to lick, scratch and rub it frequently. Such a ruptured canine cyst can be confused with granuloma. It is advisable to take your dog to a vet for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Sebaceous Cyst Dog Removal and Treatment Options

I see people asking how to remove a sebaceous cyst from a dog in forums.

As stated earlier, a canine sebaceous cyst is painless and will resolve itself without treatment. As long as the cyst is small, intact (that is, not ruptured), and not inflamed (thus turning from white to reddish in color) it is okay to just leave it alone. Another cause of concern is a sebaceous cyst that grows large too fast.

There is always the temptation to squeeze the cysts to ahead but as Dr. Becker says, you shouldn’t as this can trigger bacterial infection in the skin (cellulitis), in which case antibiotics would have to be prescribed for treatment.

As for dog sebaceous cysts that rupture (burst) on their own, disinfecting them and keeping them clean is all that is needed but if they get infected, your veterinarian will prescribe antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications. Your vet may also deem it necessary to have surgical removal of canine sebaceous cysts.

This is usually necessary for some cases of infection (especially those associated with pus-like discharge) and inflammation and for ruptured sebaceous cysts that cause considerable bleeding.  Dog cysts that impact significantly to your furry friend’s quality of life may also necessitate surgical removal.

Video: Sebaceous cyst on dog

NB: Although sebaceous cysts are benign cysts, they resemble numerous other cancerous types of lumps and bumps in dogs. It is still a good idea, therefore, to get a proper diagnosis done by a veterinarian. In most cases, this involves physical examination but fine needle aspiration, and sometimes biopsy may be necessary to rule out cancer.

Turmeric for Dogs Cysts

turmeric for dog sebaceous cyst removal
Turmeric is the most popular home remedy for cysts

Turmeric is a popular home treatment remedy for not only dog canine but also human sebaceous cysts. Online dog forums are awash with positive stories.

Video: Cyst removal. Huge Sebaceous CYST on Head - Health and Medicine

The best way to use turmeric for dog cysts is to add it your dog’s food but some people have as well reported success using it topically, that is, applying a turmeric paste on dog’s skin and fur.

Dog Cyst Removal Cost

As part of this research, I hit the road trying to determine the cost of having a sebaceous cyst on a dog’s skin removed. As I found out the cost varies greatly from one location to another and from facility to another.

Video: English Mastiff Cyst removed

It seems to vary between $200 and $1500. This may cover sedation fee, facility fee, and medications. Whether or not biopsy is required will also have an impact on the cost. The number of cysts to be removed will also have an impact on the cost.

It may be a hard thing for the veterinarian to give you a precise figure for the price without taking a look at the cyst.

Most facilities have payment plans so don’t be afraid to ask.

Preventing Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

There is little you can do to prevent sebaceous cysts in dogs but you can always reduce their chance of formation by taking proper care of your dog’s skin and coat.

Here are a few tips:

  • Brush and groom your dog frequently. This helps to not only get rid of dander and keep the sebum flowing out of the skin pores smoothly but also throws in the added benefit of strengthening the bond with your furry pet.
  • Increase your dog’s dietary fatty acid intake. These help to keep sebum secretion at its optimal level. Adding omega 3fatty acid sources such as krill oil is a great way to achieve this and so is coconut oil.
  • Avoid over-bathing as well as under-bathing your dog. Different dog breeds require different bating frequencies depending on the nature of their coat. A grooming specialist can help you determine the best frequency for your particular dog breed.

Sebaceous Cyst on Dog Pictures

We have already explained what a dog sebaceous cyst looks like but what a better way to complete the picture (pun intended) than with several pictures of dogs with sebaceous cysts. So without further ado, here we go:

sebaceous cyst on dog picture
Canine sebaceous cyst
Photo of sebaceous cyst on dog’s paw
photo of sebaceous cyst on dog’s paw

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