Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

Sebaceous adenoma is a benign tumor affecting the dog's skin. Sebaceous adenoma in dogs tends to occur later in the pet's life (i.e. 8 to 9 years old). Sebaceous adenoma results from skin glands that produce skin oils. They are mostly found on the eyelids or limbs. Sebaceous adenomas can appear as single or multiple tumors. The tumors are less than an inch wide, with a narrow stem. No hair grows on the tumors, which can sometimes be ulcerated.

Sebaceous adenoma can occasionally turn into sebaceous adenocarcinoma, which is malignant. You should suspect malignancy if the tumor starts growing rapidly and its surface is ulcerated.

Dog owners often mistake sebaceous gland tumors for warts. As long as they do not grow rapidly, there is no bleeding or ulceration and the growth is not in an area where the dog might scratch it or in an area that will prevent normal function, no intervention is necessary.

Diagnosis of Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

When you spot a suspicious wart on your dog's skin, you will need to have your veterinarian check it. In order to diagnose sebaceous adenoma and rule out other skin conditions, your veterinarian will need to perform several tests, including:

  • Biopsy: extracting tissue from the tumor
  • Cytology: microscopic examination of the extracted cells. The cells can be extracted through a biopsy or an aspiration, which is less invasive but also less conclusive, as only a few cells can be extracted
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • A serum chemistry profile to check your dog's general health in order to know what treatment is most recommended
  • Urinalysis
  • Chest X-rays to check whether the lungs have been affected (especially if malignancy is suspected, this might be a sign of metastasis)

Treatment of Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

Sebaceous adenoma is a benign skin tumor (a growth) so surgery can eliminate the growth without any complications. However, surgery is not always necessary. Surgical removal of the growth is only necessary in a certain number of situations such as:

  • The growth is bleeding
  • The growth is itchy or the dog is bothered by it (i.e. if it is on an eyelid and the dog cannot open his eye)

As a sebaceous adenoma growth is usually small, only local anesthesia will be needed for surgery. The surgical removal of the sebaceous adenoma growth will involve removing some of the neighboring tissues as well. The surgery may leave scars, depending on how large the adenoma is.

Prevention of Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs

The cause of the majority of skin tumors is not known, so prevention is difficult. There are some known risk factors such as too much exposure to the sun, especially for white or light haired dogs. Examine your dog carefully every time you groom him and immediately consult a veterinarian if you notice a suspicious growth, a wound that does not heal for a long time, or a lump that grows rapidly.