When it comes to new lumps and bumps on our dogs, we can’t help but worry. We don’t want our dogs to be in pain or uncomfortable. And one common problem is sebaceous cysts. These little growths can be concerning if you don’t know what you are looking at. So today, we are going to talk about how to diagnose and treat sebaceous cysts in dogs.
What Are Sebaceous Cysts?
First things first, we need to talk about what a sebaceous cyst is. They are even sometimes called sebaceous adenomas or skin tags. These growths form at the sebaceous glands at the hair follicles that produce oil. When these glands become clogged, they get inflamed and swell up. The cyst is filled with pus, fluid, and infection. But don’t worry. We are going to tell you how to treat sebaceous cysts later.
How Do Dogs Get Them?
No one really knows why some dogs develop sebaceous cysts. Some people predict that it’s due to improper grooming like brushing and bathing. But some people believe it has to do with genetics, especially since breeds like Cocker Spaniels seem more prone to them.
There are even some theories that dogs are prone to sebaceous cysts as they age. Or even if they have had a traumatic injury to the skin that ruins the hair follicles. The truth is that your dog could develop these lumps from a combination of these. We may never know the exact cause.
What Does A Sebaceous Cyst On A Dog Look Like?
With so many different kinds of bumps and lumps, it can be hard to tell if a new growth is something to be concerned about. Common characteristics of a sebaceous cyst include:
- Raised bump
- Red or blueish color
- Hair loss
- Pain or tenderness when touched
- Can appear in clusters or alone
- And sometimes bleeding if poked.
How Are Sebaceous Cysts Diagnosed?
As you can see, the characteristics of sebaceous cysts are common traits in many other skin conditions. So you might be wondering how to tell the difference between them and something more serious? And the truth is, you probably can’t.
But a veterinarian has the training to know what type of lumps are sebaceous cysts. And most vets can give you a diagnosis without any extensive procedures. All they will need to do is examine the area and ask a few questions about hygiene. But if the cyst is abnormal, they might need a definitive diagnosis.
Is Histiocytoma Common In Dogs?
One of the reasons you should always get any growth examined by a vet is that you could misdiagnose them. One typical growth in dogs is the Histiocytoma or a benign skin tumor on the skin. These small lumps could look like sebaceous cysts or warts. But the treatment for them is entirely different.
What Does A Mast Cell Tumor Look Like On A Dog?
Another common dog’s skin growth is the mast cell tumor or squamous cell carcinomas. These malignant tumors can grow quickly or take months to form, and they look and feel almost identical to a sebaceous cyst. They can be smooth or bumpy and red in appearance. But the main difference is that these cancer growths are typically under the skin and not on the surface.
So it’s best always to get these growths checked out. Because the faster you get a diagnosis, the quicker you can start a treatment plan. And your dog can live a happy and long life despite it all.
How Do You Get Rid Of A Sebaceous Cyst On A Dog?
Once your vet verifies that the lump in question is a sebaceous cyst, you might be looking for a treatment plan. But in most cases, your dog won’t need any treatments. The cysts should go away on their own and are only cosmetic blemishes.
In some cases, your vet might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce the swelling. And if the cyst is open, you might have to give your dog antibiotics to prevent secondary infection. Otherwise, you can use some safe and easy home remedies without a vet’s prescription.
Should Sebaceous Cysts In Dogs Be Removed?
Most people think how to diagnose and treat sebaceous cysts in dogs is to remove them. But in most cases, a sebaceous cyst will go away on its own. The only time a vet might consider surgical removal is if the cyst is too large or if it’s in a painful place. Otherwise, you can treat the cyst at home without any invasive procedures.
What Size Cyst Needs Surgery?
In some rare cases, the cysts become enlarged and won’t go away on their own. If the cysts are between 5-10 cm wide, your vet might give you the recommendation of removal. They might also send the growth into the lab for a biopsy. That’s because these large growths could be benign tumors or cancerous.
What Can Happen If A Cyst Is Left Untreated?
As we mentioned earlier, these cysts usually go away on their own. But if your dog has a cluster of them in one spot or gets too large, they can become infected. So how do you know if the cyst is infected?
The cyst might start to leak pus, become inflamed, and warm to the touch. If you notice these symptoms, try not to touch the area. Call your vet, and they can drain the cyst and give you an antibiotic. And your dog will be better in no time.
Can I Stick A Needle In A Sebaceous Cyst?
You might think that you can treat sebaceous cysts in dogs by draining the fluid yourself. But we wouldn’t recommend this route for many reasons. For one, sticking a needle into the cyst increases the risk of skin infections in your dog. Not to mention, the needle could leave scarring and increase the risk of another cyst in the future.
So while it might seem like you are saving a trip to the vet, you could be causing more harm than good. It’s best to leave procedures like this to a vet. With their sterilized equipment and aftercare medications, your dog will heal much faster.
Can I Pop A Sebaceous Cyst On My Dog?
Just like with a needle, popping is a bad idea. The risk of infection and reoccurring cysts increases if you pop them. And you could spread the infection into other glands to cause more clusters in the future. So don’t squeeze or poke at the cysts at home.
How Do You Dissolve A Cyst Naturally?
Just because the cyst can go away on its own doesn’t mean you can’t treat sebaceous cysts naturally. And the treatment is fairly easy with things you might already have at home. Let’s look at the most effective ways of treatment.
The most effective way to cure sebaceous cysts is to use warm compresses. It’s easy to reason that warm compresses will break up the clog if the cysts form from clogged oil glands. Taking a warm, clean rag twice a day, you can help the cyst drain.
After the cyst has opened up, clean it with hydrogen peroxide and spray it with Vetericyn. That way, the cyst can heal and prevent reinfection later. And hopefully, there won’t be scarring that could lead to another cyst.
Warm compresses are great. But if you really want to up the ante, add Epsom salt to a dish of warm water to reduce swelling and open up the glands. The double whammy of the warm compress and the Epsom salt will have you seeing results faster.
Apple Cider Vinegar
And finally, a great way to treat sebaceous cysts is by gentle exfoliation. And the best way to exfoliate is by using a natural chemical peel. Mixing one tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar with one cup of warm water will clear your problems up. It’s gentle and won’t hurt your dog, yet it’s tough on cysts. In no time, your dog’s growths will disappear.
Can I Prevent Sebaceous Cysts?
Now that you know how to diagnose and treat sebaceous cysts in dogs, how do you prevent them? The truth is, since we don’t know the exact causes of cysts, we can’t always stop them. In the cases of older dogs, genetics, and trauma, there is no way to stop it.
But we can do simple grooming tasks to reduce the likelihood of sebaceous cysts in the future. Brushing is one great way to increase keratin in the hair follicle and spreading natural oils throughout the hair shaft. Brushing with slicker brushes can also be a mild exfoliator if the bristles reach down to the skin.
And the other great way to prevent cysts is to bathe your dog at least once a month. A good rule of thumb is if your dog smells, it’s time for a bath. However, remember not to over-bathe your dog as well. Otherwise, you could have even bigger problems on your hands.
And Now You Know
How to diagnose and treat sebaceous cysts in dogs isn’t a scary thing. But it’s always a good idea to have any skin condition examined by a vet.
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