The Worrisome and Not So Worrisome Truths About False Cysts in Dogs

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As a concerned pet owner, there are plenty of reasons you may worry over your dog’s health or overall well-being. If Fido coughs, you wonder if they are choking or are sick. If your pooch is feeling tired one day, your finger may hover over the phone keys with the number of the local vet in mind. From nutrition to behavior to coat quality and beyond, you scour over every change, bump, bruise or sniffle your precious pet may come down with.

When it comes to lumps, bumps and squishy sacs, collectively known as cysts, it only makes sense that many owners may fear the worst for their pet’s overall well-being. All growths, however, are not created equal. When it comes to false cysts, dog owners may be able to take a deep breath and roll back the alarm in thinking their pet is experiencing a life-altering health concern. If your pet has a false cyst, here are a few facts that may help ease your mind and provide guidance for treatment options going forward.

What is a False Cyst?

To define what exactly is a false cyst, first we need to talk about cysts in general. In dictionary terms, a cyst is any fluid-filled structure that creates a raised pocket within or on the exterior of your pet. Cysts can occur on the skin, near joints, or in any place on your pet’s body.

What makes a specific raised bump a false cyst as opposed to “real” cyst is the lack of an interior lining. True cysts form when the inner wall structure, known as the secretory lining, produce fluid that is a combination of water and cellular debris and continue to fill, even after the cyst is drained. In order to treat true cysts, veterinarians must be careful to remove the entirety of the cyst wall so that the structure does not grow back over time.

False cysts lack this interior lining. Instead of filling with self-produced secretions, false cysts typically occur due to injury of the surrounding tissues. As the cells of the tissue die off, they liquify or create an immune response, creating a pocket or raised bump around the area. False cysts typically occur around the flank or legs of your dog and can be a result of the aforementioned injury or, on occasion, reaction to an injection.

Treatment of False Cysts

Unlike true cysts, false cysts are typically able to resolve on their own, without medical intervention. Since no additional fluid or cells are being excreted, the fluid that forms within a false cyst will typically be reabsorbed into your cat or dog’s body. This will cause the false cyst to slowly decrease in size until it is no longer bothersome to your pet.

In some cases of severe injury, false cysts may need to be drained. Any time your pet’s inner tissues and structures are being exposed to air, liquid, or outside contaminants, an experienced veterinarian should be consulted. If a false cyst is not reducing in size, your vet may choose to create a small incision to drain the fluid and reduce pressure. In some cases, your vet may be able to instead use a small gauge needle to withdraw the fluid and cells from the area. Warm compresses and gentle massage should be applied, which will help the fluid reabsorb into surrounding tissues.

The Cystastic Wrap Up

Unlike their true cyst cousins, false cysts are relatively minor health concerns that should have no long-term impact on your dog’s well-being. Each case of an individual cyst should be monitored and analyzed by a qualified veterinarian if it is bothersome to your pet. Your vet may advise warm compresses or massage to help reduce swelling that occurs from injury or injection site reaction. In some cases, your vet may choose to drain the cyst with a minor surgical procedure. False cysts will not grow back or recur after the initial injury is healed and swelling is reduced. While false cysts may be worrisome for concerned pet owners, they typically pose no danger to the quality or length of life of household pets.

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