Cysts on Dogs

Cysts on dogs are common and can be formed on the surface of the skin or on the inside of the body. The cysts may occur as a lump or bump. If located outside the body, it may be visible or palpable. Typically, cysts are not harmful, but you should always check with your veterinarian to ensure that your pet is healthy. Cysts may occur in dogs of any age, breed or sex.

The Occurrence of Cysts

Cysts on dogs occur when the cells in a certain part of the body start to reproduce and cause lumps. The lumps can be either tumors or cysts. The tumors may be benign, which develop at a very slow rate and are not dangerous for the dog’s health. Malignant tumors grow uncontrollably and are very aggressive, being able to spread to the rest of the body and cause metastasis.

Cysts are made up of liquid substance, air or semi liquids wrapped in a membrane. The cysts are not harmful and will typically not grow, keeping the same shape and size for many years. A cyst may also go away on its own.

Cysts may form in any part of the body including the brain (arachnoid cyst), ganglions or in the vicinity of vital organs such as liver, kidneys or ovaries. In very rare cases, cysts can turn into malignant tumors.

Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts, also known as wens or epidermal inclusion cysts, are similar to the regular cysts, but they are made up of the secretions of the sebaceous glands.

The sebaceous glands produce the sebum, which is an oily liquid that is produced to keep the skin hydrated and lubricated. The sebum is accumulated in the hair follicles. When the follicles are obstructed, sebaceous cysts may occur. These cysts may develop and grow larger as the sebum accumulates, but can also be eliminated when pressure is applied on the skin and the hair follicle roots. However, you should not do this at home. Visit a vet and he will establish if the lump is indeed a cyst.

Diagnosing Cysts

A cyst can be felt on the surface of the skin as a lump; however, if the cyst is located inside the dog’s body, this can only be detected through x-rays. Given that the cysts are not painful, the vet may accidentally detect these while performing a routine checkup.

Cyst Treatment

Cysts are benign growths of the body and will not cause any pain, so treatment is not necessarily needed. Some cysts may disappear without treatment, while others will remain the same size for many years.

If a cyst is too large and hinders the dog from performing his normal activities (i.e., if the cyst is located on the knee, joints or tendons) it may be surgically removed.

In rare cases, cysts may get infected and cause discomfort. The vet will be able to establish if the cyst should be removed and prescribe suitable medication.