Cysts in Dogs

Cysts in dogs may occur as a swelling or lump on the surface of the skin, but it may also form inside the dog’s body. Cysts or sebaceous don’t present a health hazard; they may disappear or may remain unaltered for many years without affecting the health of the pet. However, you should check with your vet to ensure that the lumps you detect on your dog are cysts and not tumors.

Cysts in Dogs

Cysts may occur in dogs of all ages, breeds or sexes. Cysts are not painful and will not cause health problems in your pet.

Cysts are made up of harmless cells that develop and form lumps that may be felt if the cysts are formed on the surface or under the skin.

However, certain cells that start reproducing may also form tumors, which may be benign or malignant. Malignant tumors require special attention; these tumors will develop quickly and they can spread and affect the rest of the body.

The cysts are lumps that are made up of liquids, air or membrane wrapped liquids. Cysts generally won’t develop and they are not harmful. Cysts may go away without treatment.

Cysts may appear on vital organs such as the brain (known as arachnoid cysts), around the lymph nodes, liver, kidneys or ovaries (in female dogs).

Less than 1% of cysts may transform into a malignant tumor.

Sebaceous Cysts

The sebaceous cysts or epidermal inclusion cysts are a separate type of cysts that are made up of sebum, produced by the sebaceous glands. These sebaceous cysts commonly form in the dog’s hair follicles and can burst when touched. However, you shouldn’t try to press on lumps you notice on the dog’s skin, as you need to make sure the lump is a cyst and not a tumor.

How to Diagnose a Cyst

Lumps or bumps that you feel on the skin of your pet may be cysts, but they may also be tumors. To differentiate between a cyst and a tumor, the vet needs to perform a biopsy and see what the cysts are made up of.

The internal cysts cannot be detected by palpating your pet’s body; x-rays are necessary.

Dealing with Cysts

Cysts are benign and painless so they may not need any treatment. Often, the cysts will disappear after a while; other cysts may remain unmodified for several years.

However, if the cyst occurs in an area that may cause discomfort for the pet (i.e. hinders breathing or normal movement), the cyst should be removed. The cysts may be removed through surgery or through removing the liquid with a syringe.

Cysts may get infected if the pet chews or scratches the lump. For this reason, the cyst may also be removed. The infection will be signaled by fever, swelling and redness in the cyst area. The infection should be treated with antibiotics.