The skin is a complex organ, which makes both humans and dogs likely victims of random lumps and bumps. Cysts are one of these skin conditions. And, in actuality, cysts on dogs are quite common and can be caused by various different things.
In this article, we’re discussing everything you should know about cysts and the different ways they can be treated. We’ll be covering what cysts are, and the different types of cysts that you should be aware of. While they typically aren't cancerous, cysts may require surgery if they are causing pain or discomfort for your pet. We’ll help you identify when this may be necessary.
What is a Cyst?
To put it simply, a cyst is an abnormal sac-like growth that contains fluid, semi-solid material, or air. Cysts can be found in lots of different locations throughout the body, including the skin, mouth, nose, and eyes. They are most commonly associated with the skin; however, they can form almost anywhere.
In dogs, cysts are often bluish in color and are at risk of becoming infected with bacteria and yeast.
The Most Common Cysts in Dogs
As we mentioned above, several different types of cysts can affect your furry friend. The type your dog has is dependent on its cause.
Here are the most common types of cysts to affect dogs.
In the same way that your skin secretes oil, your dog's hair follicles are constantly producing a small amount of sebum. The sebaceous glands, which are responsible for producing this oil, can sometimes become clogged, damaged, or blocked. This results in something called a sebaceous cyst.
The most common location for sebaceous cysts to appear is the head, chest, and neck area. Sebaceous glands typically become blocked by dead skin or debris, which causes the cyst to grow. They are usually painless and harmless but can become infected if punctured or traumatized.
They may also cause irritation or inflammation if they're large enough to rub against surrounding tissue. While most sebaceous cysts can be treated easily with topical creams, more serious cases may need to be removed surgically by a veterinarian. If left untreated for too long, or if completely ignored, sebaceous cysts could eventually burst open on their own, causing further damage and potential infection.
If you do notice your dog developing this condition then there are some things you can do at home, including applying a warm compress over the affected areas several times per day, checking daily for any redness or swelling, and keeping an eye out for any discharge coming out of the lump.
Another type of cyst you will likely encounter as a fur parent is the follicular cyst.
Hair follicles can be found all over a dog’s body, and can accidentally become trapped with hair or sebum (skin oil). Follicular cysts form when a blocked hair follicle traps bacteria and dead skin cells in its core. They can range from small to quite large in size, and could even ooze a thick white, yellow, or brown material. Some follicular cysts can be quite itchy, which only increases the likelihood of infection.
Follicular cysts are usually diagnosed via skin sample and are important to treat as they easily become infected. Large, painful ones may require surgery.
Cornifying epitheliomas are probably one of the most alarming growths to come across on your dog, mainly because of the way they feel. These are, however, the most common type of benign tumor in dogs and they can occur anywhere on the body. Cornifying epitheliomas are more likely to develop in older dogs (usually, as they age) and grow quite quickly.
These growths are typically described as feeling like a “nail” or “horn” and are hard and bumpy in texture. They begin in the hair follicle, and are more common in long-hair breeds, like collies and sheepdogs.
Surgical removal is the most common type of treatment for cornifying epithelioma.
Is Surgery Required for Treating all Cysts in Dogs?
You may be wondering whether surgical removal is required for all cysts and growths on your furry friend. The answer to this question depends on your vet’s professional training and discretion. They will easily recognize growths that are likely to turn cancerous or get infected and can help you decide the next steps going forward. They will also know the best way to get your dog out of discomfort as quickly and easily as possible.
Surgical removal isn’t required for all cysts though. Some other common treatments for cysts in dogs include:
- Draining the cyst
- Injecting medication into the cyst
- Antibiotic treatment
If you notice a lump on your dog's body, call your vet
It can be difficult to identify exactly what’s going on with your dog’s skin. Instead of playing a guessing game or rifling through different home remedies with no success, make a call to your vet if you notice a random lump, bump, or growth. Even if the cyst is small, your vet can help you treat it at home effectively.
Left untreated, cysts have the potential to cause your dog serious pain, impact their ability to eat, and could even lead to cancer. They should never be ignored. Even benign growths could lead to infection.
Don’t forget to make sure your precious pup is completely insured before taking them in for an examination or treatment. This simple step can help you save thousands at the end of the day. Our insurance experts can help you find the best policy based on your pet’s needs and health, reducing the complications and stress typically associated with choosing an insurance plan.
Within just a few minutes, your dog will have complete coverage and you’ll be ready for any treatment plan your vet throws your way. Contact us today to get started.