Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment 

Sebaceous cysts in dogs are lumps under the skin that form when a sebaceous gland gets blocked. When a sebaceous gland gets blocked, it forms a lump under the skin called a sebaceous cyst. Sebum is an oily or waxy substance that sebaceous glands make to keep the skin and hair moist. Sebaceous gland tumors, follicle cysts, or epidermal inclusion cysts are other names for these cysts. They are not harmful and can happen in any dog breed or age. This article will explore the causes, symptoms, and treatments for sebaceous cysts in dogs, so you can take good care of your pet.

Identifying Sebaceous Cysts

Dogs with sebaceous cysts typically develop little, spherical bumps or lumps under the skin. They are frequently discovered on the back, neck, and face, and all have an abundance of sebaceous glands. The cysts may be moveable beneath the skin and range in texture from stiff to soft. Epithelial tissue surrounds sebaceous cysts, cavities containing a sebaceous gland’s fatty secretion. Sebaceous glands, microscopic structures covering the dog’s skin, produce sebum. Sebum is an oily or waxy substance that lubricates the skin and hair shafts. Epidermal inclusion, follicular, or keratin cysts are other names for sebaceous cysts. Small, raised, well-defined, round structures in the skin are how sebaceous cysts typically appear. Their size can range from 0.5 cm to 5 cm. They can occur on any body part, but the head, neck, and trunk are more common. Depending on the amount and type of sebum inside, they may feel firm or filled with fluid. Most are singular, but some dogs may have multiple cysts in the same area.

Causes of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs 

The obstruction or harm to hair follicles is the leading cause of sebaceous cysts in dogs. Hormonal imbalances can influence cyst formation; does are more likely to develop sebaceous cysts than other breeds. Cyst formation can be affected by hormonal imbalances. Sebaceous cysts are small lumps that form under the skin of dogs. They are filled with a thick, oily substance called sebum. These cysts’ exact cause is unclear, but some factors may make them more likely to occur. These are:

  • Genetics: Some dog breeds or bloodlines have a higher chance of getting sebaceous cysts. For example, Cocker Spaniels, Poodles, Schnauzers, and Terriers are more prone to them than other breeds.
  • Infections: Bacteria or fungi can infect the skin or hair follicles and cause swelling and blockage of the oil glands. This can lead to cyst formation.
  • Trauma: Damage or irritation of the skin or hair follicles can also cause swelling and blockage of the oil glands, resulting in cyst development.
  • Hormones: Changes or imbalances in hormones, such as during puberty, pregnancy, or aging, can affect how the oil glands work and increase the risk of cyst formation.

Symptoms of Sebaceous Cysts 

The presence of palpable lumps or bumps under the skin is the most apparent sign of sebaceous cysts in dogs. The size of these cysts can range from pea-sized to more enormous masses. Sebaceous cysts sometimes cause a discharge that smells bad. Cysts can cause dogs to scratch or lick the affected area excessively. Most sebaceous cysts in dogs do not show any symptoms or indicators. But certain sebaceous cysts have the potential to burst or become infected, resulting in the following symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling, and redness surrounding the cyst
  • Fluid, pus, or blood leaking from the cyst
  • smell coming from the cyst
  • hair loss near the cyst
  • The cyst itches or scratches
  • decreased appetite or weakness brought on by an injury or infection

Diagnosing Sebaceous Cysts 

A veterinarian can identify sebaceous cysts in dogs through a physical examination. They will evaluate the cysts’ appearance, size, and placement. In some circumstances, they may do a fine-needle aspiration or biopsy to confirm the diagnosis and rule out any other underlying illnesses. To find out if a dog has sebaceous cysts, the vet will look at the dog’s skin and the cysts. The vet may also take some fluid from the cysts or a small piece of the cysts’ skin to check what they are made of. This can help the vet tell the difference between sebaceous cysts and other skin problems, such as tumors, infections, or bugs.

Treatment Options 

Dog sebaceous cyst treatment is based on the cyst’s size, location, and overall health. Treatment for sebaceous cysts is often not necessary unless the dog is experiencing discomfort, illness, or cosmetic issues as a result of the cysts. To treat any major symptoms, doctors may also prescribe medications, including antibiotics or anti-inflammatory drugs and topical therapies.The following are a few possible treatments for dog sebaceous cysts:

  • Monitor the cyst: The owner should watch it for any changes or problems if the vet says it is small, not changing, and not bothering the dog. The owner should look at the cyst often and report any signs of infection or rupture to the vet.
  • Medication: The vet may prescribe the dog antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, or painkillers if the cyst is infected or swollen. These medicines can kill germs, lower the swelling, and ease the pain. The owner should follow the vet’s instructions and give the dog the full medicine course.
  • Surgery: The vet may decide to remove the cyst if it is big, broken, or causing problems for the dog. The vet will use medicine to make the dog sleep and not feel anything during the surgery. The vet will cut the skin and remove the whole cyst and its skin. Moreover, the vet will then stitch or staple the skin and cover it with a bandage. After the surgery, the owner should follow the vet’s advice and check the skin for any signs of infection or bleeding.

Preventive Measures

Some precautions can help decrease the risk of sebaceous cysts. Regular grooming and washing help keep skin clean and stop the buildup of dirt or sebum. For overall skin health, diet, and weight management are crucial. Early cyst detection can help look for changes or anomalies in the dog’s skin. To reduce the risk of sebaceous cysts in dogs, you can take some steps to keep their skin and coat healthy and prevent complications. These steps are:

  • Clean and groom your dog’s skin and coat regularly with gentle products. Avoid using harsh chemicals or irritants that can damage the skin.
  • Give your dog a balanced and nutritious diet and fresh water. Do not overfeed your dog or let it become obese, as this can affect the skin and the sebaceous glands.
  • Talk to your veterinarian about spaying or neutering your dog. This can change the hormonal balance and the function of the sebaceous glands, which may have benefits or risks for cyst formation.
  • If your dog has any skin problems, such as infections, allergies, or injuries, take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible. These problems can increase the chance of cysts or make them worse.

Home Care for Sebaceous Cysts 

You can give your dog some at-home care if they have sebaceous cysts to ease their discomfort and stop further problems. Warm compresses applied to the cysts can aid in promoting drainage and reducing swelling. You can maintain cleanliness by using materials that veterinarians advise to clean the surrounding area gently. You must avoid squeezing or rupturing the cysts because that can cause infection or other problems.

Consult a Veterinarian 

Sebaceous cysts usually do not harm, but you should consult a veterinarian if the cysts proliferate or change their appearance noticeably. Infection-related symptoms like redness, swelling, or discharge require medical attention.


Dogs frequently develop sebaceous cysts, which can be treated with care and attention. In dogs of any age, breed, or gender, sebaceous cysts are a frequent and harmless skin condition. Unless they are causing the dog discomfort, an infection, or cosmetic issues, they are normally harmless and don’t need to be treated. When it comes to diagnostic and treatment choices, the owner should keep an eye out for any changes or issues with the cyst and communicate with the veterinarian. Keeping your pet clean and well-groomed, giving them balanced food and enough water, and getting veterinarian attention for any skin conditions can all help avoid or lessen sebaceous cysts.

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