Sebaceous Hyperplasia in Dogs

Sebaceous hyperplasia is a medical disorder which consists of the growth of the sebaceous cells. It is the most common type of benign tumor involving the sebaceous glands in dogs. Sebaceous hyperplasia is not life threatening, but it can develop into adenomatous or epitheliomatous tumors. It is recommended that you contact your veterinarian if you see any type of abnormality or lesion on your dog’s skin. Proper diagnosis and treatment are needed to ensure your dog is not affected by a malignant tumor.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia in Dogs

The sebaceous glands are small glands located in the skin. They are responsible for the production of sebum, an oily substance which has the role to protect and lubricate skin and hair.

Sebaceous hyperplasia consists of the abnormal production of the sebum. It results in skin malformations, tumors which resemble a cauliflower or wart. In some cases, sebaceous hyperplasia also manifests through:

  • Ulceration
  • Greasy discharge, oily look
  • Changes in pigmentation (can be pink, yellowish or dark)
  • Alopecia (hair loss in the affected area)

Sebaceous hyperplasia tumors can bleed. The small tumors can vary in size from 2 mm to 7 cm. Sebaceous tumors are generally located on the belly, but they can also start growing in other parts of the body such as limbs and eyelids.

The dog breeds that are predisposed to developing sebaceous hyperplasia growths are:

  • beagles
  • poodles
  • cocker spaniels
  • miniature schnauzers
  • dachshunds

Sebaceous hyperplasia growths can occur without causing any health issues to your dog. However, the tumors that bleed and grow rapidly should be treated by the veterinarian.

Diagnosis of Sebaceous Hyperplasia in Dogs

Sebaceous hyperplasia tumors resemble greatly other sebaceous gland tumors such as sebaceous adenomas, sebaceous epitheliomas or sebaceous adenocarcinomas.  Sebaceous adenocarcinomas are malignant tumors. Therefore, taking your dog to the veterinarian for a correct diagnosis is highly recommended.

The diagnosis consists of biopsy tests. This means that the veterinarian has to remove a very small part of the tissue and analyze it. The cell sampling is done without causing any pain to the dog. Usually, the veterinarian extracts sample cells from the tumor using a very fine needle. If your dog has already had a tumor removed, the veterinarian can analyze that one. Sample cells are analyzed under a microscope.

Even if a tumor seems harmless and does not seem to bother your dog, you should still take him to the veterinarian for biopsy and diagnosis.

Treatment of Sebaceous Hyperplasia in Dogs

Dogs that are affected by sebaceous hyperplasia can develop more sebaceous gland tumors in time. Therefore treatment is recommended. The treatment of sebaceous hyperplasia in dogs consists of the surgical removal of the tumors. The excision is performed under local anesthesia, so that the dog does not feel any pain. Veterinarians might only choose to remove sebaceous hyperplasia tumors which bleed, itch or are located in an area where they can cause problems. In case the tumor does not cause any type of discomfort, it might not require surgery.