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What are Sebaceous Cysts?

Sebaceous cysts are also referred to as sebaceous gland tumors. These lesions can be found in any age of dog, and can be seen as single growths or occur in multiples. If you see a growth on your pet, consult your veterinarian. Sebaceous cysts can range from a nonserious type to a cancerous tumor.

A sebaceous cyst is a common occurrence in dogs. The sebaceous gland contains sebum, with the purpose of lubricating the hair follicles, hair shaft, and skin. Inflammation can occur when cysts form a sac-like growth under the skin.

Sebaceous Cysts Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$650

Symptoms of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

The appearance of a sebaceous cyst can vary depending on the type.

  • There may be a raised area of skin called a nodule
  • Cysts may be round or elongated
  • Some cysts are slightly mobile under the skin
  • Size can vary from less than ½ an inch to over 2 inches
  • You may see multiple tumors
  • There could be inflammation
  • A cyst can become infected
  • A cyst may bleed
  • The cyst may ooze a yellow substance
Types

Sebaceous cysts are prone to secondary infection. It is recommended that you have a veterinarian check any type of growth that may appear on your dog.

  • Sebaceous gland overgrowth or hyperplasia
    • These usually appear on older dogs
    • They present as a shiny lump
    • This type of cyst is most often seen on the head and abdomen
    • Manchester, Wheaton, and Welsh Terriers are prone
  • Sebaceous gland adenoma/epithelioma
    • These are usually found on older canines
    • The cysts are found on the head and may have pus, covered with crust
    • They can sometimes be found on the eyelid
    • Alaskan Malamute, Samoyed, Husky, Coonhound and English Cocker Spaniel are the breeds that are predisposed
  • Sebaceous gland hamartoma
    • This type of cyst is often noticed after birth
    • They are usually about 2 inches in length or diameter
  • Sebaceous gland adenocarcinoma
    • These are malignant cysts found in middle age to older dogs
    • Males are predisposed
    • Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Cocker Spaniels, Scottish, Cairn and West Highland White Terriers are the most likely breed to have this cyst though it is rare
    • This cyst can metastasize to the lymph nodes and lungs
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Causes of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

Not only can cysts be unsightly, but they can also emit a foul odor or pus. Secondary infection or the possibility of a malignancy are good reasons to have a cyst investigated by the veterinarian.

  • Genetic predisposition
  • Injury or trauma
  • Blockage of a follicle opening (similar to a blocked pore in humans)
  • Insect bite reaction
  • Allergic reaction
  • Follicular inactivity
  • Lack of sebum secretion (for example sebaceous adenitis)
  • Swollen hair follicle
  • Hormonal imbalance
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Diagnosis of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

The veterinarian will carefully check the entire body of your furry family member to determine the location, number, and appearance of the cysts.

Studies have determined that the best method of evaluating the tissues that make up the cyst is histopathology. This involves a microscopic examination of the tissue (removed by needle aspirate for biopsy, or completely extracted surgically) in order to determine the nature of the cyst. Determining the cause, discovering the prognosis, and ruling out other skin conditions are quite possible with histopathology.

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Treatment of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

Treatment will depend upon the state of the cysts, the number of cysts, and the health condition of your beloved pet.

If the cyst appears to be relatively new in appearance, you and the veterinary caregiver may take a wait and see approach, which basically means delaying any further treatment until the cyst, if it does, develops.

At a later time, the veterinarian may choose to open and drain the cyst and treat it with a topical medication.

If the cyst has ruptured by the time you make the visit to the clinic, the veterinarian may decide to treat any inflammation or infection that is present, and then surgically remove the cyst. Sometimes a cyst might need to be treated for infection first, and then when that is cleared up, draining is done, and finally a surgical procedure for removal.

If a cyst is found to be a malignant adenocarcinoma, chemotherapy and radiation will most likely follow the best option, which is surgery.

It should be noted that with sebaceous gland overgrowth or adenoma, recurrence is common. The prognosis of removal is usually good, but the recurrence factor must be kept in mind. Also, if many cysts are present, removal is not an easy task.

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Recovery of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

If the cysts found on your dog are cancerous, then the recovery and management will involve subsequent treatment with follow up appointments to determine if the cancer is being eradicated.

In the case of the simple removal of a few cysts, you will be required to keep the area clean. However, you will be advised not to bathe your dog until the veterinary caregiver gives permission.

Your canine companion may have to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent him from licking or biting the area as it heals. Check the surgery site daily for swelling, redness or bleeding. Consult with the veterinary team if you are unsure of the condition of the surgery site, or if you feel the wound is not improving. The veterinarian will prescribe additional topical medication or antibiotics if necessary.

Though the area where the cysts were located will eventually heal, it is not uncommon for them to resurface, or for new cysts to appear.

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Sebaceous Cysts Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$650

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Sebaceous Cysts Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Need pet health advice? Ask a vet

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Shih Tzu

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

Has Symptoms

Lump On Stomach

Hi My Shih tzu has almost like a boil on his stomach it looks inflamed it doesn’t seem to bother him or hurt him but it’s really kind of big and I’m not sure what to do

Aug. 6, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. Without examining the growth it is difficult to say whether it is an area of infection or a skin tumor present. I would recommend scheduling an appointment with your veterinarian. They will be able to examine the swelling, can perform a fine needle aspirate to look at the cells under the microscope to identify what it is and provide appropriate treatment. If it is a tumor they may recommend removal of it surgically. Take care!

Aug. 6, 2020

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Golden Retriever

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Three Years

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Unknown severity

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None

Just curious if this bump I found is anything to worry about. I think it is a sebaceous cyst.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Gina U. DVM

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Hello Thank you for the picture. It most certainly could be a cyst. You can monitor it and if you notice that it becomes larger or change colors, take your pet to a veterinarian for an exam. Good luck.

Aug. 5, 2020

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bull mastiffs

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Seven Years

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Unknown severity

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1 found helpful

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Unknown severity

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Red Bump

quarter size red bump, hole in center. blood and black gunk squeezed out. looked as if impacted hair in a pore

July 31, 2020

Owner

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Jessica N. DVM

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Hello- Thank you for your question. Dogs can get cysts that will become inflamed and rupture. It would be a good idea to have the area examined by your veterinarian so they can assess for infection and provide antibiotics and anti-inflammatories if needed. They may also recommend having the growth removed once it has healed some. Have a good evening.

July 31, 2020

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Cocker Spaniel

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Eleven Years

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Unknown severity

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Unknown severity

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Large Lump On The Side Of Her Body

My dog has had a large golf ball sized lump on her body. The vet didn't do a biopsy but said a surgery is not necessary. She's not spayed. So I'm concerned that she could get more of these lumps or that it could even be cancerous.

July 22, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. If you are concerned about the lump, it would be best to ask your veterinarian to do what is called a Fine Needle Aspirate, as that is a simple procedure that can be done in house to tell you if the lump is cancerous. That will give you more information about this lump, and you can have that done on new lumps if they appear. I hope that all goes well for her.

July 22, 2020

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charlie

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Shitzu

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6 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Multiple Cysts On Back And Warts

Charlie has had a small lump on side 6 months ago and vet said to just keep an eye on it, Last week I discovered another lump on his back near his neck which had a crusted appearance on the top of it I made appointment to see Vet this week and noticed another lump near his tail and it had lots of small lumps. Vet said she thought one was a wart and others were cysts they were numerous small lumps. I have to take Charlie back to see vet, should I ask for blood tests and skin samples to be done

Sept. 2, 2018

charlie's Owner

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Levi

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Morkie

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8 Years

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Fair severity

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Fair severity

Has Symptoms

Cyst

Hello. I have a 8 1/2 year old Morkie (maltese/Yorkie). He has a dime size cyst on his chest. It’s obviously small and I can move it (under the skin) with my finger. The borders of the cyst are defined. It doesn’t bother him and there are no other symptoms. I noticed it a few months ago and it doesn’t seem to be growing. I’m hoping it’s benign (fingers crossed).

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Coco

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Labrador Retriever

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12 Years

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Moderate severity

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Moderate severity

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Pus
Cyst
Bloody
Ruptured Cyst

My parents 12 year old lab has had a cyst like growth on his back. About 2 years ago, we noticed a tiny bump on his back, the vet said it was nothing to be concerned about, also never really looked at it. It's grown significantly, it has ruptured a few times, oozed pus and blood and scabbed up but repeats the cycle over time. I clearly need a new vet but is such a situation completely unheard of? He also has a huge lump on his chest that has grown over the years, the vet says such fatty lumps are completely normal in labs. I know he's old and his joints aren't great which is expected at his age, but the cyst on his back is my biggest concern. My parents have had their vet look at it at least 4 times, any suggestions or idea's as to what it could be or how to treat it? It seems to only bother him when we try to clean it after it ruptures, usually just with an antibacterial water wash.

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Midnight

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Labrador Mix

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11 Years

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Serious severity

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Serious severity

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My moms dog developed a cyst on her left hind leg abt a year or so ago.We just had it removed and she was having a little trouble walking after the surgery.The cyst was wrapped around the sciatic nerve.Its been 3 weeks since the surgery and she seems to have gotten worse.She can barely get up on her own, she’s very unsteady, collapsing usually on the wood floor or any surface that’s not carpeted, she’s barely eating, she’s just laying around..Before the surgery she was able to get up on her own, she walked fine, she actually was able to run when she wanted to..It’s breaking my heart to see her like this, I’m almost at the point of regretting that I had my mom agree to the surgery.The vet made it seem like it would be no big deal to do the surgery..Now I’m having second thoughts about the surgery

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Brie

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Standard Poodle

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6 Years

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Mild severity

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Mild severity

Has Symptoms

Ruptured Cyst
Ruptured Cyst Sebaceous Cyst
Ruptured Cyst Sebaceous Cyst

My Spoo has had what for months I thought was a fatty tumor. I was planning on bringing her in for an exam and to schedule to get it removed in the next couple of weeks. This morning (I check it every morning since it materialized) I realize it has ruptured (it was a cyst, not a tumor) and all of the insides have spilled out. (Goopy, yellow, waxy, minimal blood.) It doesn’t seem painful or irritated or anything. It was pretty open at first. I cleaned it with Castile soap and iodine and it has since stopped draining scabbed over in the center already. Is it ok to put an antibiotic ointment on this and just keep an eye on it? I’ll likely still have the entire thing removed anyway because I don’t want to have to worry about it coming back. (She’s has these cysts removed before on other areas of her body, just never this big or after rupture. Thanks in advance.

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Oliver

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Black Labrador Retriever

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4 Years

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Serious severity

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0 found helpful

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Serious severity

Has Symptoms

Pain
Whining

my dog Oliver has a cyst in his tail that started small, but has grown. He keeps attacking his own tail, to the point of his whole tail is almost broken open- it obviously hurts but it didn't use to. I'm afraid it's infected and/or spreading. I don't have enough to go to the vet, how do I treat it?

Sebaceous Cysts Average Cost

From 367 quotes ranging from $200 - $1,500

Average Cost

$650