Sebaceous Cysts In Dogs

Sebaceous Cysts In Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, And Treatment Options

Spotting a weird bump on your furry friend can be worrisome. Sebaceous cysts are those little lumps that can pop up on your dog’s skin, and most sebaceous cysts are usually not dangerous but definitely need attention.

This post will walk you through what these bumps are all about—from spotting the warning signs to understanding treatment options—so you’re prepared. Keep reading to become your pup’s health hero and get a front-row seat to know what to do with sebaceous cysts in dogs!

Key Takeaways

  • Sebaceous cysts are small lumps under a dog’s skin caused by blocked oil glands, and they can appear on the head, neck, back, limbs, or ears.

  • These cysts may look like pimples and can be blue-white; if they get infected, they will become red and swollen and may leak thick fluid.

  • Your vet can diagnose sebaceous cysts with fine needle aspiration or biopsy to ensure they’re not cancerous.

  • Treatment options include antibiotics for infections, surgical removal of large cysts, expressing the contents gently or monitoring smaller ones at home.

  • Preventing sebaceous cysts in dogs involves maintaining your their skin health through regular grooming, a balanced diet rich in omega fatty acids, clean water access and using medicated shampoos.

Understanding Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

sebaeceous cysts in dogs

Sebaceous cysts in dogs are like those unexpected guests at a party—uninvited and sometimes uncomfortable. They’re these little lumps beneath the skin, resulting from a buildup of sebum, that can pop up (literally) on our furry friends when we least expect it.

Definition and Appearance

sebaceous cysts in dogs

Sebaceous cysts are common in dogs. Sebaceous cysts develop from sebaceous glands, which sit near hair follicles. These lumps often look like a pimple and can be firm or squishy, measuring up to two inches across.

The color is unique too—a light blue tint might show up on your dog’s skin.

If one bursts, you might see a gooey substance oozing out. It’s usually yellow-brown or gray and pretty thick. Even though they might seem weird, these cysts are mostly harmless to your pup.

But keep an eye on them because sometimes they can get infected and cause trouble for your furry friend.

Causes and Common Locations

sebaceous cysts in dogs

The skin of your furry friend can be quite complex. Sometimes, sebaceous cysts pop up because the oil glands get blocked. Debris and other gunk can jam these glands, leading to pesky lumps.

Genetics might also play a part—certain dog breeds like Cocker Spaniels and Basset Hounds seem more prone to getting them.

You’ll mostly find these bumps on areas with less fur or where there’s more rubbing. Those spots include the head, neck, back, and limbs. Dogs even get them in their ear canals and at pressure points like the elbows.

If you spot a strange lump on your pup’s body, it could well be one of these cysts.

Next up: What signs should you look out for that might suggest your dog has a sebaceous cyst? Let’s take a closer peek at symptoms.

Symptoms of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

sebaceous cysts in dogs

Sebaceous cysts are little pockets under your dog’s skin that fill up with gunk. If your dog has these cysts, you might notice some signs.

  • Small, round lumps can be felt on your pet’s body. You can spot them when you pet or groom your dog.

  • A few cysts might look white or blue and can have hair poking out of them. This happens when the cyst is close to a hair follicle.

  • Your dog may lick or scratch at the bump. This could mean the cyst bothers them.

  • Sometimes, the cysts get red and swollen as well as the surrounding tissue if they’re infected. They can burst open, too.

  • Infected cysts often ooze a yucky, smelly material that looks like cottage cheese.

  • If the infection is bad, your dog might feel sick with a fever and low energy.

  • Some dogs get bald spots where they’ve licked too much because of a sebaceous cyst.

  • Sebaceous glands make oil to keep coats shiny, but too much oil makes oily skin and more chances for cysts.

  • Breeds like Shih Tzus and Yorkshire Terriers are more predisposed to developing sebaceous cysts due to their genes.

  • Dogs with thick fur or those who’ve had skin problems before are also at a higher risk of getting these bumps. Keeping your pup well-groomed might help prevent sebaceous cysts.

Diagnosis of Sebaceous Cysts

sebaceous cysts in dogs

Pinpointing the exact nature of a bump on your furry friend can be tricky, but veterinarians are well-equipped with tools and techniques to diagnose sebaceous cysts. A careful examination may lead to tests like fine needle aspiration or a full biopsy, ensuring that the lump isn’t something more sinister—and setting your mind at ease.

Fine Needle Aspirate

sebaceous cysts in dogs

Vets often use fine needle aspiration to check sebaceous cysts in dogs. With a small, thin needle, the vet takes some fluid from the cyst. This is a quick and simple step. It doesn’t hurt your dog much more than a regular shot.

The sample goes under a microscope so the vet can see what’s inside. They look for certain cells to tell if it’s just a harmless cyst or something else more serious like squamous cell carcinomas. Biopsy is next if they need more information about the cyst.


sebaceous cysts in dogs

A biopsy takes a closer look at your dog’s cyst. Your vet may decide to remove a small piece of the tissue and send it off to a lab. There, pathologists examine it under a microscope.

They check if the cyst is just an overfilled sweat gland or something more serious like a skin tumor.

The process is straightforward but critical for your pup’s health care plan. It helps rule out dangerous conditions such as sebaceous gland malignant adenocarcinoma or mast cell tumors. Knowing exactly what we’re dealing with means better treatment choices for your furry friend!

Treatment Options for Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

sebaceous cysts in dogs

Navigating the treatment landscape for sebaceous cysts in dogs can feel overwhelming, but there’s a silver lining—options abound. From the precision of surgical removal of the entire cyst to the simplicity of home care routines, every pooch has a path to relief and recovery that suits their unique situation.

Let’s dive into these treatments and find out how they can restore your furry friend’s comfort and health without stepping foot back into troublesome territory.

In-Clinic Treatment

sebaceous cysts in dogs

If your dog has a sebaceous cyst, your vet can offer in-clinic treatments. These procedures are safe and can help your pet feel better.

  • Antibiotics: If the cyst is infected, the vet may prescribe antibiotics. This helps to heal the infection, prevent secondary infection, and reduce pain.

  • Surgical removal: This is often done for larger or bothersome cysts. The vet does a complete surgical removal of the whole cyst to prevent it from coming back.

  • Fine needle aspirate: A small needle takes fluid out of the cyst. The vet checks this fluid under a microscope for signs of cancer or other problems.

  • Local anesthesia: Before some treatments, the vet numbs the area. Your dog will stay awake but won’t feel pain during the procedure.

  • Biopsy: The vet might take a tiny piece of the cyst for testing. They look at it closely to make sure it’s not something more serious like cancer.

  • Expressing the cyst: Sometimes, gently squeezing the cyst can remove its contents. This reduces swelling and discomfort for your dog.

  • Wound care: After removing a cyst, vets clean and bandage the spot. They’ll teach you how to care for it at home too.

  • Elizabethan collar: Dogs get a special collar to wear after treatment. It stops them from licking or biting their wound while it heals which helps prevent secondary infection.

  • Follow-up visits: You’ll need to bring your dog back to see the vet. They check on healing and make sure there are no new issues.

Home Care and Prevention

sebaceous cysts in dogs

After discussing in-clinic treatments, let’s focus on what you can do at home to care for your dog and prevent sebaceous cysts. Your role is vital in keeping your pup’s skin healthy. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Feed your dog a balanced diet with plenty of omega – 3 fatty acids. These nutrients help maintain healthy skin.

  2. Use medicated shampoos designed for dogs. These can prevent blocked pores which often lead to developing cysts.

  3. Keep an eye on your dog’s skin daily. Watch for any new lumps or bumps.

  4. Clean any small wounds promptly to avoid infection and potential cyst formation.

  5. Ensure your dog stays hydrated; water helps keep the skin less prone to issues.

  6. Provide regular grooming if your breed has long hair; this prevents tangled fur that can trap dirt.

  7. Touch and feel your dog’s coat during petting sessions to get them used to exams and spot changes quickly.

  8. Include fish oil supplements in their diet as recommended by a vet, which can promote better skin health.


Sebaceous cysts in dogs might sound scary, but they’re often harmless. Keep an eye on your pup’s skin for any changes or new lumps. If you spot something, don’t panic—your vet has got this covered! From simple monitoring to possible surgery, there are ways to handle these bumps.

Remember, taking care of your furry friend means staying alert and seeking the right help when needed.


1. What exactly are sebaceous cysts in dogs?

Sebaceous cysts, or epidermal inclusion cysts, are pockets under a dog’s skin where sweat glands get blocked and dead cells collect.

2. How do I know if my dog has a sebaceous cyst?

You might see round lumps on your pet’s body that seem like breast lumps or lipomas. They can look inflamed and feel soft when you touch them with palpation.

3. Can certain dogs get sebaceous cysts more than others?

Yes, indeed – some breeds like Chinese Crested Dogs, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, and Kerry Blue Terriers have a genetic predisposition to developing these kinds of skin issues.

4. Are all bumps on dogs serious or could they be harmless?

Many times it’s just benign growth, but sometimes bumps can signal something more serious like malignant cysts or cancerous tumors – that’s why biopsies by veterinary care professionals matter.

5. What treatments exist for my dog if they have a sebaceous cyst?

Options range from non-invasive approaches like topical medications to surgery — it really depends on the size of the lesion and whether it’s causing discomfort.

6. Should I worry about those small black dots similar to “blackheads” on my dog’s skin?

They’re often called comedones and may lead to follicular cysts; however, not every case is severe – your vet can tell you if treatment is needed after microscopic examination and definitive diagnosis.

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