Sebaceous cysts on a dog’s skin could often scare people and they are a common reason for a visit to a good doctor for dogs. In this article, we are going to learn what sebaceous cysts are and how they are treated. And of course, how much would the owner need to pay for that?
What are sebaceous cysts and how often are they seen in dogs?
Before we can discuss what sebaceous cysts are, let’s give an explanation for the term cyst. A cyst is an empty space between tissue that usually is filled with natural secretion from the body or as a result of the breakdown of products such as keratin. The medicine differentiates several different types of cysts: sebaceous, follicular, dermoid, true, and false cysts.
Sebaceous cysts are filled with sebum and they form around the sebaceous glands. They are prone to secondary bacterial infection and are common findings in dogs.
What could lead to sebaceous cyst formation in dogs?
The reason for the formation of these cysts in dogs is currently unknown, but it is usually connected with the blockage of a skin pore or a follicle. As a result, there is an accumulation of dead skin cells and secrets that can’t be excreted. However, there are several reasons that could lead to this:
- hair follicle inactivity which is usual for dogs with no hair
- trauma to the skin
- infection and inflammation
- UV damage from the sunlight
Sebaceous cysts could be found in different locations on the body of the dog. When we are talking about puppies, these formations could usually be found on the head of the puppy. In dogs of all ages and sizes, the location for cysts could be pretty much anywhere, starting from the neck, the legs, the chest, and sometimes even on the eyelids.
Can sebaceous cysts cause complications in dogs?
These formations on the skin are usually harmless for the dog. But dogs are known to scratch around and go into bushes, which means that they could catch the cyst and make it rupture.
The scary part of that is that this could make the cyst bleed and expose it to bacteria and yeast contamination, that if not noticed could be left untreated, which really does make things complicated for everyone.
Sometimes it doesn’t have to be your dog’s fault. Sebaceous cysts tend to pop on their own as well. Especially when they have been too full. You may notice your dog becomes uncomfortable and scratches the area and when you touch it you can feel some discharge or blood coming from it.
Do not try to do anything on your own. Call your vet and take your dog to be properly checked by a professional.
How do vets diagnose sebaceous cysts in dogs?
Vets always start with the same thing when you get your dog for a visit: a series of questions that really are helpful for any good practitioner. Then a physical exam. And then we get to the more specific testing needed for the problem that we are trying to diagnose.
In this case in order to diagnose whether it is a sebaceous cyst or another type of formation, the vet will do something called fine needle aspiration. That is basically poking a needle in the cyst and trying to get material which is then seen under the microscope.
If this doesn’t give the expected results, the vet then performs a biopsy, which is tissue collection that again is prepared and looked under the microscope.
How are sebaceous cysts treated in dogs?
The best way to treat this is surgery. Surgery involves removing the cyst and sometimes veterinary dermatologists use a surgical laser. The treatment is always done under general anesthesia and it is your dog’s best option especially if the cyst has already ruptured or it has started showing signs of inflammation and infection.
Post-operative care usually is very straightforward. The owners need to give antibiotics and pain meds for a few days and make sure that the dog does not scratch or lick the area. Which is why they usually have to wear the cone of shame.
Once a cyst has been removed it does not come back again, but there is no guarantee that there won’t be any recurrence on some other spot.
A dog owner usually has to pay between $250 and $400 to treat sebaceous cysts.