Sebaceous adenoma dog home remedy

Sebaceous adenoma dog home remedy DEFAULT

How to diagnose and treat sebaceous cysts in dogs

Sebaceous cysts are swelling underneath the skin caused by clogged oil glands. They can be found on dogs of any age and breed and are fairly common.

All dogs have sebaceous glands (sweat glands) that secrete keratin. Sebaceous glands play an important role in keeping your dog’s coat sleek and shiny. When you brush your dog, it prompts these glands to release the keratin oils that moisturize your dog’s skin.

But, issues occur when the hair follicles of these sebaceous glands can get blocked, which causes a buildup of oil secretions. When the sebaceous gland remains blocked, the natural secretions have nowhere to go, prompting a cyst to form. Sebaceous cysts are swelling in the skin caused by a clogged sebaceous gland.

Many sebaceous cysts are benign, but they can interfere with your dog’s natural movement. They are also prone to infections.

Sometimes these cysts can be a sign of an underlying condition, like cancer. Dogs can get a variety of skin cancers, including malignant melanomas, mast cell tumors, squamous cell carcinomas, and more.

Sebaceous cysts are also known as epidermoid or epidermal inclusion cysts. However, they aren’t the most common cysts dogs can have. Follicular cysts are more common in dogs. Follicular cysts are lumps that form in the sacs under hair follicles.

Common places for sebaceous cysts

Sebaceous cysts can occur anywhere but are most commonly found on the head, neck, ears, and anus.

Sebaceous cysts are also found at pressure points like hips and elbows.

Causes of sebaceous cysts

Genetic predisposition. Some breeds, including schnauzers and Yorkshire terriers, could be genetically predisposed to developing cysts.

Follicle opening blockage. Sebaceous cysts are caused by clogged glands. This could be because of oil trapped in the glands, but injuries, dirt, and infections can also lead to clogged pores, creating cysts.

Injury or trauma. Sometimes sebaceous cysts can form because of trauma.

Age. There are also different types of sebaceous cysts that can be found in older dogs or specific breeds.

Sebaceous gland adenocarcinoma are malignant cysts found in middle age to older dogs. These malignant cysts are more likely to be found in male dogs. They’re also more likely to happen in breeds like Cavalier King Charles spaniels, cocker spaniels, or Scottish, Cairn, or West Highland white terriers.

Sebaceous gland adenoma (a rare, benign lesion) are found in older dogs, typically on the dog’s head. Some breeds are predisposed to sebaceous adenoma, including Samoyeds, Siberian huskies, coonhounds, English cocker spaniels, and Alaskan Malamutes.


Sebaceous cysts can develop on dogs of the oil glands beneath the skin become blocked. The result is an eruption that may resemble a pimple.

Although sebaceous cysts have a unique appearance, getting a diagnosis from a veterinarian is always recommended.

This post will help you identify a sebaceous cyst with treatment options to prevent infection.

Can I Pop My Dog’s Cyst

Popping a sebaceous cyst creates an open wound and leaves the skin vulnerable to infection. Unless the cyst is on an eyelid or in a place aggravated by movement, it’s best to leave it alone until a veterinarian can assess.

What Causes Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs?

Sebaceous cysts (also known as epidermoid cysts) develop when hair follicles or skin glands become blocked. Dogs, like people, have sebaceous glands beneath the skin. These glands secrete just the right amount of oil to keep the skin healthy.

However, sometimes that oil gland production goes into overdrive. When that happens, oils and dirt become trapped beneath the skin. The result is a pimple-like eruption filled with sebum.

Sebum is normally distributed through your dog’s fur with protects the skin and gives the fur a healthy shine.  

When blocked, the sebum has no way of escaping through the skin. As a result, the material backs up into one place causing a raised cyst.

It’s important to have a licensed veterinarian look at any new lumps or bumps on your dog.

Never assume you know what the lump is. Lumps and bumps are usually a normal part of aging for dogs, but sometimes they can be serious.

Identifying a Sebaceous Cyst on a Dog.

Sebaceous cysts develop under the skin and may appear to have fluid in them.

The fluid is made up of sebum, a natural body secretion (sweat), or a combination of dead cells and/or keratin.

1) A sebaceous cyst should feel slightly firm but moveable just under the skin.

2)  These cysts are painless growths that have a white-tinge to them (and sometimes blueish streak).

3) Sebaceous cysts tend to grow over time.

4) Sebaceous cyst on a dog are will feel round just beneath the dog’s skin.

5) Dogs are most likely to develop sebaceous cysts on their paws, head, back, and tail.

READ NEXT: The Ultimate Dog Seizure Bible

Treating a Sebaceous Cyst on a Dog

Treating a sebaceous cyst is actually quite easy, but you must bring your dog to a licensed veterinarian FIRST.

Stopping antibiotic treatment too soon is dangerous. There could be silent bacteria still lurking around that will take any opportunity to make itself known.

Warm Compresses & Epsom Salts

The best way to allow a cyst to drain naturally is to apply a warm compress to the area. Soak a clean cloth in a bowl of warm water with dissolved Epsom salts for a minute. Wring out excess water and gently apply to the cyst.


Burst sebaceous cysts are often treated with antibiotics. It’s better to prevent skin infections than treat one after the fact.

Will Sebaceous Cysts Go Away on Their Own?

A sebaceous cyst on a dog will either rupture naturally, dissolve on its own, or wall itself off.

When a sebaceous cyst walls itself off, it forms a protective barrier keeping it from erupting,

The cyst itself is made up of when a collection of dead skin cells, dirt, bacteria, or pus.

The matter within the cyst has a horrible smell and can look like curdled milk or a dark, waxy substance.

IMPORTANT TO READ: 3 Easy Treatments for Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs

Preventing Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

The best treatment is a preventative one. Too much bathing and too little bathing can both cause the development of sebaceous cyst on a dog.

Maintain a regular bath routine with a good quality shampoo formulated specifically for dogs.


summary of Sebaceous Cysts in Dogs

Sebaceous cysts form when ducts within the skin glands become clogged. They are considered harmless; however, If a cyst ruptures it leaves the skin open to infection and must be kept clean.

Any new lump or bump should be assessed by a veterinarian.

THANK YOU for reading. Please share!

Interested in learning more about skin problems in dogs including dermatitis? 


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Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs: Diagnosis, Causes, Treatment

When you come across a lump, bump, or strange growth on your dog, it can be a scary experience. The first thought that comes to mind of a dog owner is often “cancer,” but fortunately, there are generally no worries when it comes to sebaceous adenoma in dogs.

Table of Contents

Skin conditions are common in dogs, and many lumps and bumps are completely harmless.

That said, it is important to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian either way. In this article, we will talk about sebaceous adenoma in dogs and provide tips for identifying the problem and what action to take.

In this article, we will discuss:

  • What is a sebaceous adenoma?
  • What causes a sebaceous adenoma in dogs?
  • How do sebaceous adenomas affect dogs?
  • How do vets tell if it is a sebaceous adenoma?
  • How is a sebaceous cyst different from a sebaceous adenoma?
  • What is the treatment for sebaceous adenomas in dogs?

What Is Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs?

A sebaceous adenoma (or sebaceous gland adenoma) is one of the five types of sebaceous gland tumors on dogs; it's a non-viral type of cutaneous wart (1).

This means that the dog's immune system doesn’t affect the mass.

Sebaceous adenomas are essentially benign tumors, which are non-cancerous and aren't dangerous (2). It's the most common type of tumor in dogs (3).

Although they may look and sound scary, like warts, they cause no harm to your dog and can be left alone in most cases.

Occasionally, you will see small tufts of hair growing out of the dog's sebaceous adenoma, although they are generally hairless protrusions resembling a cauliflower.

They are commonly found in the following areas of a dog's body (4):

  • Head
  • Neck
  • Back
  • Eyelids
  • Limbs

You are more likely to see sebaceous adenomas on senior dogs, with an average age between 9 and 10.5 years and with hindquarters, abdomen, and thorax being the most commonly affected areas (5, 6).

Dogs that are prone to them may develop more of these growths as they get older, too.

What Causes Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs?

The sebaceous gland is an oil gland in the dog's skin (7). It produces an oily substance called sebum, which helps to lubricate the skin.

When it begins to overproduce oil, the gland itself increases in size and can get bigger.

However, it is easy to distinguish a sebaceous adenoma from viral warts due to its oily nature.

When squeezed, a clear or sometimes black-colored oily substance extrudes from the skin pores.

How Do Sebaceous Adenomas Affect Dogs?

Sebaceous adenomas are not dangerous as they are benign and do not usually contain any cancer. They rarely need to be removed, and if left alone, they will often not bother your dog (8).

However, there are a few ways that sebaceous adenomas can affect your dog.

Because they secrete oil, scabs can sometimes form (9).

The area can also become itchy, and if it is bothering your dog, the dog can exacerbate the situation by scratching and causing secondary scabbing.

Sometimes, the sebaceous adenoma is in a tricky location on your dog's body, causing a problem by either growing too big or being irritated when the dog lies down, eats, or, in some cases, blinks – all depending on where the mass is situated on your dog’s body.

Removal of sebaceous adenomas is usually only considered to improve a dog’s quality of life if they are chewing and licking the area constantly or other problems have developed (10).

How Are Sebaceous Adenomas Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of a sebaceous adenoma on a dog will often depend on the history and examination of the mass (11).

When you take your dog to be checked by a veterinarian, you can expect to be asked some of the following questions:

  • How long have you noticed the mass being there?
  • How many masses have you found?
  • Have you noticed any changes in appearance?
  • How fast does it seem to be growing?
  • Has your dog had any recent injuries or injections?
  • Have you noticed any other changes in your pet’s behavior?

Your vet will also undertake a physical examination to determine whether or not the mass appears to be attached to the underlying skin or if it is ulcerated, and whether there is a presence of oil or secretion (12).

They will check to see if the dog is in pain or discomfort or whether the mass feels hot.

If your veterinarian is not certain that it is a sebaceous adenoma just by looking at it, or if they are not experienced with these growths and prefer to have a second opinion, then they may do a fine needle aspiration (13).

If you are not sure about a veterinarian’s diagnosis, you can request them to have this done.

The fine needle aspiration procedure involves using a very tiny needle to remove cells from the growth. The cells are then sent to a pathologist for an evaluation, and a definite diagnosis can be arrived at.

Sebaceous Cyst vs. Sebaceous Adenoma

Sebaceous cysts in dogs are less common (14). They are thought to develop from an obstruction of the follicles, leading to an abnormal sebum accumulation.

A sebaceous cyst is essentially a small sac containing an accumulation of sebum.

Like sebaceous adenomas, these cysts are also benign, non-painful growths, although they can sometimes be tender to touch.

The difference between the two is that one is a cyst, and one is a tumor.

Cysts are sacs of tissue filled with another substance, like air or fluid. Tumors, on the other hand, are solid masses of tissue.

Treatment for Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs

No treatment is required when the diagnosis is that it's a sebaceous adenoma (15).

However, there are occasions when the area breaks open and bleeds or has become infected due to the rubbing of a collar or leash or your dog chewing at it.

Grooming procedures like brushing can also catch and cause a wound in the area. If the sebaceous adenoma is near the dog's mouth, it may become damaged when the dog is eating.

If it is on the dog's eyelid, this can lead to other problems, such as rubbing on the eye, causing corneal ulcerations (16).

When the circumstances require it, such as in the incidents described above, the vet can surgically remove the sebaceous adenoma along with a wedge of the underlying skin to ensure that none of it is left behind.

The surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia.


A professional veterinarian should always check out any lump, bump, or growth on your pet's body to rule out any serious conditions.

If your dog does have a sebaceous adenoma, you may like to see this as good news, as generally speaking, these do not cause your dog any serious problem, as long as an eye is kept on the situation.

Common Questions about Sebaceous Gland Tumors in Dogs

If you need more information about treating tumors of the sebaceous glands in dogs or want the previous information more concisely, this FAQ should help.

How Do You Treat Sebaceous Adenoma in Dogs?

Most of the time, sebaceous adenomas are purely cosmetic lesions. They do not usually affect your dog's health, so you do not need to treat them aggressively.

That being said, sebaceous adenomas may irritate your dog. They may also change or grow. When this happens, your vet will want to remove the sebaceous tumors. He will then biopsy them.

The thing to remember is that your dog's vet can remove the benign tumors. But new ones will likely form. This is particularly true as your dog ages.

Do Sebaceous Adenomas Fall Off Dogs?

Sebaceous adenomas tend not to fall off dogs. However, they are benign growths, so you do not typically need to treat them.

If they irritate your dog, your vet will need to perform surgical removal, as they won't disappear by themselves.

Can a Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs Grow?

Once dogs develop sebaceous adenomas, they can grow. However, they typically grow slowly.

Because of this, your vet typically doesn't recommend removing a sebaceous tumor unless it gets in the way or poses a threat to your dog's health.

What Does a Sebaceous Cyst on Dogs Look Like?

On dogs, sebaceous cysts are raised bumps. They may be slightly blue, or they may be light.

If they burst, they will ooze discharge similar to cottage cheese, brown, or grayish-white. Most of these skin tumors or cysts develop on your dog's upper legs, torso, head, or neck.

If the cyst appears dark in color, then it is likely a false cyst. This means that it is filled with blood.

How Do You Get Rid of a Sebaceous Cyst on a Dog?

Whether it is a benign tumor or a rare malignant tumor, the only method to remove the sebaceous cyst is surgery.

That being said, if the tumors occur with an infection, your vet will likely prescribe your dog antibiotics as well.

What Does Histiocytoma Look Like on Dogs?

Histiocytomas typically affect the limbs, ears, neck, or head. They are usually single hairless lumps that are small in size.

Sometimes, more than one will appear at once. This is especially common in Shar Peis.

What Does a Papilloma Look Like on a Dog?

Papillomas on dogs typically have rough surfaces that are almost jagged.

Many people compare their appearance to that of a cauliflower or sea anemone. They are more common on young dogs, especially on the muzzle or lips.

How Do I Get Rid of My Dog's Skin Growth?

Dog owners can ask vets to use one of several methods to remove skin growth from their dogs. Small ones that aren't painful are simple to remove.

Your dog may need a local anesthetic. Then, your vet can freeze the growth off or cut it off. Your vet may also use electrocautery or a laser to remove it.

The exact method of removing the skin growth will depend on the type of growth in question.

READ NEXT: Bumps on a Dog’s Back – 7 Things It Could Be and What To Do

Removing Sebaceous Adenoma

Dog Sebaceous Cysts Home Remedies

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Before You Treat a Dog's Sebaceous Cyst at Home

So your dog has a sebaceous cyst and you're wondering how to get rid of that unsightly growth at home? Before trying anything, it's very, very important to have your vet see the lump and determine if it's something to worry about or not.

First, Get a Diagnosis and Make Sure It's Benign

The fact is that some innocent-looking lumps turn out to be cancer. If this happens, the lump will need to be removed as soon as possible. Don't try home remedies, don't wait too long, and don't gamble with your dog's health when it comes to lumps!

What the Vet Can Do

Once at the vet, they will look at the lump, but don't expect it to end there. In most cases, a visual inspection is not enough to determine what it is. At this point, depending on the location and type of lump, your vet may decide to perform a fine needle aspiration, a tissue biopsy, or a complete biopsy of the lump by removing it totally under general anesthesia.

If It's Just a Cyst

Once your vet has ruled out anything major and the lump turns out to be a benign cyst, you will then need to decide which approach to take. Your vet is the best source for this type of recommendation.

  • If the lump isn't interfering with your dog's life, your vet may suggest just letting it be. In that case, you will always have to keep an eye on it and report any changes to your vet.
  • If it's inconvenient or causing problems, your vet may recommend surgical removal. This might be the case if the lump is on the eyelid, where it may potentially rub against the cornea or if the dog tends to lick the cyst a lot or scratch at it.
  • Surgery is also advised if the cyst ruptures often, if it is recurring, or if it tends to lead to infection.

Some Vets Just Want Your Money

Be wary of vets who are too quick to recommend surgery without a very good reason. If the vet seems eager to perform surgery and you don't feel comfortable with it, consult with another vet and see if there are alternate options.

"In vet school I was advised to remove sebaceous cysts because I could make money with the procedure and dog owners are generally happy to have the things gone. However, I don't recommend removal of any benign cyst 'just because.' Removal is only necessary if the cyst recurs and is prone to infection or if your dog's quality of life is impaired by the presence of a cyst."

— Dr. Karen Becker, Holistic Veterinarian

When It's Okay to Treat a Dog's Cyst at Home

The only time it's okay to try home remedies is when your vet has confirmed that it's just a cyst and it's safe to wait a bit or just let it be. Ask your vet's opinion about this, and always consult them before trying anything at home.

In some cases, home remedies are a good option when a dog is too old to undergo surgery and the vet doesn't recommend traditional surgical removal.

If you don't want your dog to go the surgical route, it may be a good idea to consult with a holistic veterinarian for more options.

5 Cost-Effective Home Treatment Options

There is a lot of conflicting information on this topic. On the one hand, some veterinarians claim that sebaceous cysts don't go away on their own. This is due to the fact that if the sac isn't removed, the cyst will likely continue to fill up, occasionally rupture, and then start the whole cycle again.

However, there are oodles of reports from dog owners who were actually able to get rid of these cysts once and for all through old remedies. In some cases, veterinarians share home remedies that clients can try out.

My Favorite Home Remedies for Canine Cysts

There are several ways to manage your dog's benign cyst at home. The following are my findings through extensive research and will be explored in more detail below.

  1. Warm Compresses
  2. Castor Oil
  3. Turmeric
  4. Coconut Oil
  5. Better Overall Health

Again, these are in no way to be used as a substitute for veterinarian advice. If you want to try them, have your vet diagnose the lump first to make sure it's harmless. Don't gamble with your dog's health!

Should You Pop a Dog's Cyst?

No. Despite many dog owners posting videos of them popping cysts (something not for the faint of heart), it's not a good idea because it likely won't cure the cyst and you also run the risk of your dog getting an infection.

1. Warm Compresses

If the cyst has opened and is draining, warm compresses may help it drain and prevent it from scabbing over. The following process is recommended by veterinarian Dr. Fiona:

  • Trim the hair around the lump.
  • Add a tablespoon of antibacterial soap such as Hibitane or chlorhexidene soap to a cup of warm water.
  • Place a sterile wash cloth in it, wring it out and then place it on the cyst for about 10 minutes, rewarming it about every 2 minutes and then patting it dry.
  • Do this 3 times a day for about 3 days, then twice daily for another 3 days. The secret is to prevent the cyst from scabbing over as this will just trap the bacteria inside.
  • Applications of plain Neosporin can help prevent further infection.

2. Castor Oil

Several dog owners have had success using castor oil topically on the dog's cyst.


  • Pour some very warm water into a bowl
  • Soak some cotton balls in the water, then place on the bump until they begin to cool. (Don't forget to squeeze out excess water)
  • Dip some more balls in the water.
  • Squeeze out excess, then apply some castor oil. Apply to bump until they begin to cool.
  • Repeat the process 10x, 3x a day, for one week.

3. Turmeric

Earth Clinic has several success stories of owners giving their dogs turmeric, an Indian spice known for helping fight infection, some forms of cancer and inflammation.

  • Add 1–2 tsp to your dog's food per day, depending on your dog's size.
  • Mix with olive oil to make a paste and help it blend with the food.


While it may be tempting to use this herb, it's important to know that it may interfere with antibiotics, according to Livestrong, and that it may also interfere with blood's ability to clot.

What this means is that should your dog need to go under surgery, it is best to wait for this herb to get out of his system. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, turmeric is a blood thinner and should be stopped at least 2 weeks prior to surgery.

In large amounts and for prolonged periods of time it may cause stomach upset and ulcers.

Consult with your vet before trying any of these remedies, and if your dog is prescribed medications or scheduled for surgery, make sure your vet is aware of the fact he is taking turmeric.

4. Coconut Oil

Coconut oil has recently become quite popular among people and pets. When applied topically, some pet owners report that it reduces the size of cysts. Apply it in a manner similar to castor oil (above).

Many owners are also adding it to a dog's food for many other added benefits.

5. Better Overall Health

A good natural diet, exercise, fresh air, and weight loss in obese dogs can help as well since lumps and other medical maladies are often due to the dog's body wanting a healthier lifestyle.

Occasionally, there is a connection between lumps and tightness or injury of a certain spinal segment. If this is the case, it would be best to see an animal chiropractor or a physiotherapist.

Cyst Prevention

There are also a couple of things you can do to prevent the formation of cysts in the first place.

Diet and Exercise

Make sure your dog is eating a healthy diet with plenty of Omega-3's and Omega-6's (found in fish and sunflower oil—you can mix this into dog food).

Regular Brushing

Keeping your dog's coat nice and clean with regular brushing helps distribute the oils in your dog's fur and keeps the sebum glands from clogging in the first place.

Dr. Karen Becker Discusses Sebaceous Cysts

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Questions & Answers

Question: Heidi is a ten-year-old mix Border Collie. She has a cyst on her paw. It's in between her toes. This is the 3rd time that she has had one. The 1st time we had surgery done. It was a long process for it to heal. The stitches kept breaking out when she did any kind of walking. The Vet said she should have surgery again. The vet put her on antibiotics and an anti-inflammatory. It went down in size. In two weeks it has gotten bigger. What should I do?

Answer: If this is a reoccurring thing and it is not getting any better, surgical excision as suggested by the vet may be the only solution. Walking should be minimized during the recovery period. Make sure she wears an Elizabethan collar. Some vets may offer ablation with a laser, which may speed up recovery. A consult with a veterinary dermatologist could be insightful.

© 2013 Adrienne Farricelli

Have a dog sebaceous cyst story to share? Post it here!

[email protected] on May 11, 2020:

Thank you so much for your advice, my 8 year old German Shephard dog had a benign cyst removed 3 years ago in what I can only describe as unnessecery butchery at a cost of £2000, it returned some month's ago getting to the size of a golf ball, we swore that he would not go through surgery again so this time after reading your artical we opted for a warm towel compress using heavily salted water diluted in boiling water twice a day and then using coconut oil afterwards, in only 2 weeks the cyst has nearly dissapeared and hardly any fluid comming out at all now, we will keep on with this for as long as it takes but my mut is like a puppy again - thank you so much

Alan Baker

SueH05 on February 29, 2020:

My 16 year old long hair dachshund has an open cyst at the base of her tail. It has been there for about 2 years. Due to its location the vet said tail amputation is not even an option, and just to leave it open to drain. It causes my dog pain and it is disgusting. It oozes regularly, no matter how much we try to keep it clean. Sometimes it swells up and the smell becomes intolerable. If it's that bad for us, how bad it must be for our baby. Any ideas on how to get this thing to heal?

Gloria Carballo on December 26, 2019:

My 14 year old Cairn terrier, has a sebacious hepithelioma cyst, it has been removed twice and is now growing back after 3 is now the size of a cherry tomato, any suggestions, should I do a 3rd surgery or is radiation the only option.

Cris on July 14, 2019:

My female Maltise had a huge lump on her breast it's getting bigger but she eats good drinks plenty of water I've moved it around she doesn't react in pain she walks good but it looks ugly I don't have money for vet visit let alone surgery what do u recommended I do what can I do for her at home

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 07, 2019:

Paula, it sounds like your vet carried out a procedure that is known as "fine needle aspiration." In general, this test can help look for cancer by looking at a sample under the microscope. Although a fine needle aspiration is not 100 percent accurate in cancer detection, if your vet found an infection, most likely the cyst should shrink after finishing the antibiotics. Follow up with your vet if it doesn't and inform him/her of your concerns.

Paula on April 23, 2019:

My Yorkie is 3 yrs old, has a cyst near her shoulder, it doesn’t show, it’s in side, under skin. The doctor removed some liquid and tested it, it was infected, she is now on antibiotics. Could this be cancer

T.R. Morris on March 27, 2019:

I adopted a ~3 year old male DDR German Shepherd rescue from the Seattle Humane Society 8 months ago. He wasnt fixed, and was found as a stray in small town central California. Pretty bad separation anxiety, and had been on Gabapentin, trazadone, valium as he bounced through three shelters. History unknown.

SHS had him fixed, teeth cleaned and also removed three large sebaceous cysts (benign inclusion custs) removed from his neck, shoulder and hip the week before I signed papers. Fast forward 8 months, and he had three cysts on his neck and one on his hip. Two on his neck got big and ruptured... $900 surgery to remove all 4, at a discount.

My concern is recurrence. What can I do? Brushing? Baths?, Radically clean diet (e.g. 100% raw meat and sweet potato)? I'm all ears.

Shelene on February 16, 2019:

My dog is 14 she has a cyst growing fast between her toes when I aspired it nothing would come out I hope oils will wrk

holly on December 29, 2018:

my dog is 13 years old, they suggested surgery, she has murmur, the cyst does not bother her, it opens sometimes and bleeds, I don't want to do surgery, I bought omega fish oil for her, do you think I can use castor oil or leave it alone,

Sharon Armstrong on December 22, 2018:

My yorkie had a cyst on her neck. It has went away and came 4 times now. Each time it comes back it is bigger each time. This time is so big. It sticks way out from her hair. About the size of a golf ball.

Janet White on May 13, 2018:

Have 6 year old pure bred poodle who has (or had) large cyst on back about 2/3 way to tail. Also a couple other tiny ones starting. I had asked Vet about it and he recommended leaving it alone. A few weeks ago CoCo discovered it and chewed out hair and opened cyst. It must now itch because I catch her licking and chewing at it. I tried putting placing collar on her but she learned how to get to the cyst anyway. Would like to apply antibiotic to it but afraid she would lick and be sick. Any suggestion?

Linda on February 23, 2018:

My mini schnauzer is 10 year old. I put her on a low fat diet She had a cyst on her eyelid for 4 years and it has just disappeared. I changed her diet one year ago. I now make her treats and a meat, vegetable and fruit diet that is added to Acana Lean and Fit kibble.

For the treats I grind down the kibble and add steam banana, blueberries and apple or pear and the juice from the fruit for moisture to form the cookies. I bake them and freeze the batch and leave a few in the fridge at a time.

Meat is 8 large white chicken breast the low fat type poached in the oven. Added to this is cooked carrots, celery, peas, green beans and blueberries, pinch of oregano, thyme, ginger, dill and garlic. I grind all in a food processor and add the vegetable blueberry juice to the meat. I don't use the liquid from the chicken as there may be a trace of fat. She also gets omega 3 drops on her food each day. I have mini containers and freeze the meat mixture.

Not sure why her weeping cyst disappeared but I thought it was her diet. Also this diet I made up cured my other schnauzers pancreatic problem. Her lab results came back cleared.

Always check with your vet before changing your dogs diet. This diet may not be suitable for your dog.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 21, 2018:

Debby, many dogs act this way after being groomed. It may be just "nerves." Some dogs act differently after their coat is shaved down especially if their whiskers are trimmed too. Razor burn is also a possibility and this may cause dogs to act weird. If glands were expressed some dogs have a bit of discomfort too. Some dogs just feel more cold. Has he ever acted this way after being groomed or is it the first time? Has he even been shaved down before? I would not think the cyst popping would be particularly painful. Keep an eye on your dog and if he still acts weird or in pain, contact your vet.

Mary on February 21, 2018:

One of our pair of year-old bichons, Ozzie, has developed a sebabaceous cyst on his shoulder (per Vet I.D. the first time it happened.)

Since then, it has repeatedly cycled through

swelling/ popping/oozing/scabbing/ healed with hair grown over it - x3 over the past 3 months.

I keep it clean and trim the hair away & use teatree oil as an antibacterial - mainly because its the only compound that his buddy, Moe, doesn't lick off.

There is no bacterial odor and it heals cleanly.

The vet told us that if we have it surgically removed, there are no guarantees that another cyst capsule won't reappear; she seemed to discourage surgery.

Warm compresses, coconut oil, etc., are difficult to maintain due to "patient noncompliance" (even if Ozzie leaves it alone, Moe won't...).

Would consider removal if I thought it would conclude the issue, but it doesn't sound like a reasonable expectation.

any suggestions?

Debby Cook on February 19, 2018:

My Pomerania got shaved at the groomers an she found 3 little cyst. She popped them an cleaned them when she shaved him. Ever since I brought him home he sits an shivers an don’t act himself. Do they have pain after the cyst are popped? He eats an drinks normal just acts like he is in pain.

Mary Liebler on February 16, 2018:

My Bichon had a small bump near her tail.The Vet said a

Sebaceous cyst and let it be, don't

squeese as that would start infection.I followed his instructions.After about two months, it opened + leaked a fluid on it's own, like a diluted blood.I just wiped it dry and overnight it formed a dark scab.Scab was about the size of a

dime, after 2 wks of this dry scab

thought I would try coconut oil.

Rubbed a hard piece of coconut

oil, which became soft and the scab became black gum instantly.Wiped it off several times with soft paper towel, no smell of any kind.Once the scab was gone, the spot was flat, no bump and pink, not red or inflamed.Wiped spot several times with fresh coco oil, for several days.All healed and no

residual effects.Also gave coco oil with food.Highly recommend

the natural coconut oil.Watched

many UTUBE videos on this subject + read quite a bit.Felt safe with the coco oil topically

but would never squeeze the cyst.It has been months now and

our Vet is very impressed, I'm grateful.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on December 09, 2017:

Karen, please keep your dogs separated (baby gate, another room, crate). Bacteria from licking can cause an infection. Consult with your vet if the hole is still open.

karen on December 08, 2017:

the cyst was drained but the hole wont heal because my other 2 dogs wont leave it alone...they lick it constantly...the hole is still open

Sylvia on September 25, 2017:

My dog had a sebacious cyst about 10mm. The vet saw it and told me that's what it was, and we decided to leave it alone. A little while later I noticed it had popped on its own and was oozing a little creamy coloured stuff. Not pus, and no bad smell. I bathed it gently with warm salt water and gently eased all the substance out until it looked clean and pink. I always have a tincture of Echinacea Angustifolia in the house, and use it for wounds as well as for colds, etc. I soaked a small cotton wool ball with the tincture and held this on the wound for a few minutes, then re did that twice more that day. By morning there was no oozing or bleeding, and I bathed the wound with the tincture three times the next day. The skin healed normally, did not get infected. That tincture is my go-to for any infection and it works well for dogs and humans, and will prevent infection in any surface wounds. The cyst did not return.

Ruth on August 05, 2017:

So, I just adopted a little 48lb boxer. Not only do I need to ad some wt to her, but I see shd to has some cycts pressing on her eye. The fluid that came out was a chocolate pus. Now, in the mean time I am using tea tree oil which seems to work really well.

moira jones on June 19, 2017:

I have an old lady who is about 14yrs old a Mini poodle she has them all over her body, she keeps scratching them and they are driving her mad. I am applying coconut oil at the moment with some small improvement, she has under her chin and on her lip that she keeps making bleed I am seeing vet today routine check and will see what they say. Any help would be great thank you.

Kathy on June 10, 2017:

My 15 year old dog has had a large sebaceous cyst on his flank for his entire life and is under the skin which has erupted or my dog caused a hole in the cyst because of fleas (he is white) my dog was scratching for fleas and then licking and since I recently shaved him he is able to get directly at the cyst which is beside where his tail joins his body. The Cyst is now oozing and smells bad and I cannot move him because he is in pain and will bite - I am bathing him in warm water and would like to know if I can use hydrogen peroxide or just warm water and keep it clean or any other suggestions please? "Thank you"

vicki on March 05, 2017:

My 12 year old cocker spaniel has a growth that the vet says in just gland build up but it is the size of a hard golf ball. Should I remove it at $1,200.???

Tonya on November 22, 2016:

I just noticed on my one year old female Yorkie what looks to be a sebaceous cyst. I pray that is all it is but I worry because it is in the middle of her back, middle of her spine. Taking her to Vet next week. She just got spayed about 10 days ago as well. No microchip placed. Prayers please.

JJ on November 17, 2016:

I am dealing with one of these now on my 7 year old golden's neck . I put lavender and frankinsense oil on it twice a day until it finally ruptured. No yuck came out, just some bloody oil. Doesn't have a smell to it. Now I clean her with warm water and a clean washcloth twice a day. I mixed a jar of coconut oil and oregano oil. About one drop of oregano essential oil to one tablespoon of coconut oil. I get a q-tip good and lathered with the oil mixture and place it inside the hole twice a day. I don't cover it. I like to let it air out. So far, it continues to drain nicely with no signs of infection or pain. Once I am confident it has drained completely, I will probably dress it to encourage scabbing. I will post again with progress.

Cora on October 03, 2016:

THANK you so much for the tip on Turmeric and Coconut Oil!! I have had a 19 year old dog with skin cysts for over 18 months. He has a heart problems so he can't have surgery. The vet told me there was nothing I could do for it. I finally thought to look for herbal remedies because I hate putting him through the pain of cleaning them. I bought some organic Turmeric from Harmons (in baking section) and mixed it with defractionated Coconut Oil (from Doterra- I use it but I'm not selling so this is REAL). I put about 3 T of Organic Turmeric with 1-2 T of Defractionated Coconut Oil and put it in the microwave for about 2 minutes. Then I let it cool in the fridge.

My dogs cysts had been burst for 18 months - one was about an inch in diameter and the others were 1/4 and 1/2 inch. The big one, the inner skin had actually risen above the surface by 1/8 of an inch. I put this paste on thick and covered it with gauze and tape (cut his hair down so it would stick). 24 HOURS LATER they had shrunk to meet the surface of his skin! :) :) :) I also put 1/4 t of turmeric in his breakfast and mixed it in. He's not ecstatic about the flavor, but he'll eat it. THANK YOU AGAIN!! :)

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on September 28, 2016:

Carol, thank you for your story about healing your dog's sebaceous cyst naturally!

Natalia on September 20, 2016:

For the cyst not to refill the vet has to remove the sac

Betty on September 01, 2016:

Carol, hopefully your dog's sebaceous cyst is going to shrink and never come back! thanks for sharing your experience.

Emaleigh W on August 31, 2016:

Daily Mositure your Black lab Bailey seems to have a full anal sac, not a cyst. You can look up methoods to emptying it. It can be harful for Animals, it is not hard to do, and can be kind of gross. I would definitely recommend emtying it. upon research if you decide you cannot do it a vet will do it for you. best of luck

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 27, 2016:

Carol odea, I hope your dog's sebaceous cyst is gone by now!

Daily Moisture on June 04, 2016:

My 12 yr old black lab Bailey has had a growing cyst for the last 1 1/2 yrs near her rectum that is so big I have actually given it "his" own name "Ernesto" and am about to give "him" his own facebook page. Wish it would rupture so i could try some of these home remedies.

Valerie Strong on June 01, 2016:

Lavender oil...cures cysts... apply a couple times a day on the cyst... it works wonders !

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 21, 2016:

What does your vet recommend? Eight is not that old to undergo surgery if she is healthy and many dogs get a dental cleaning as they go under.

Julie on May 15, 2016:

My dog has a cyst on her chest, she's had it drained twice now but has filled up and has got bigger. What should I do? She's nearly 8 years old.

Mary G. on April 26, 2016:

I was about to have my 15 year old cocker spaniel euthanized because of the huge lump on her neck until I read your article on cysts. The vet has twice drained the "growth" and of course it refilled rather quickly. It doesn't seen to cause her any pain but has pushed her ear onto her face and the ear is pushing on her right eye. (Wish I could post a picture to show you how large this thing is.) I hate to have her put to sleep if it's just a matter of removing a clogged gland. The vet does not want to sedate her because of her age but there has to be a better solution than having it emptied out every 3 weeks. As a senior citizen living on Social Security, that gets costly as well. The growth is bigger than a standard size baseball now, very firm in some areas, and warm to the touch. I just hate to put my furry family member to sleep if there are other options. :(

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 06, 2015:

Hello Carol, I hope your dog's sebaceous cyst is finally cured! i have heard many good things about raw honey, I am not surprised it may work as well for cysts! As always, home remedies for dogs may work, but should only be done once a vet has done a diagnosis to rule out other conditions. Best wishes!

carol odea on May 06, 2015:

Sebaceous cyst on my boxers hip opened. I cleaned w soapy warm water. Then I applied orgsnic raw honey to gauze and held in place with paper tape, replacing honey/bandages ea day for about 4 days. honey pulls the fluid out and heals. After 4 days I replaced bandages to just dry gauze and taped down. Im on day 6 changing dry bandage daily. Its not coming back yet and seems to be drying out.


Remedy dog home sebaceous adenoma

Seeing a new lump on your dog is worrisome. You hear so much about cancerous lumps that even harmless sebaceous adenomas in dogs can cause fear.

Try looking up information on any type of skin condition in dogs and you’ll likely end up more confused than when you started.

In this post, you’ll learn all about sebaceous adenomas in plain language. You’ll discover exactly what they are, which dogs are more likely to get them, and what you can do to treat them at home.

It’s always a good idea to get a veterinarian to examine new or suspicious lumps on a dog. That’s just common sense.

The reality is that without a fine needle aspiration or biopsy, the veterinarian can’t accurately give a diagnosis.

The reality, however, is that sebaceous adenomas are so commonly seen by a trained eye that biopsy may not even be required.

How to Identify Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs

The term “sebaceous” refers to specific glands found under the skin of all mammals.

They are found all over the body in people with the exception of the palm of the hands and soles of the feet.

In dogs, sebaceous glands cover the entire body with the exception of the paw pads.

Some tell-tale signs of a sebaceous adenoma include:

  1. Sebaceous adenomas feel oily when gently squeezed.
  2. Look like a stalk of cauliflower.
  3. Sometimes secrete liquid that dries up and crusts.

These glands are located just beneath the surface of the skin and produce an oily substance known as sebum. Sebaceous glands are attached to hair (fur) follicles.

The glands release sebum which then travels up the follicle via the fur and is then transferred over the skin.

Any disruption of the normal pH balance of a dog’s skin (about 7.5 on the standard pH balance scale of 0 – 14) can cause too much sebum (oily skin) or not enough sebum (dry skin).

These benign growths are common in dogs, especially middle-aged and older dogs.

Sebaceous adenomas in dogs are simply benign (not cancerous) tumors.

Can Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs Become Cancerous?

Sebaceous adenomas are rarely cancerous.

Occasionally, what seems like a simple “old dog wart” or sebaceous adenoma, is actually something entirely different.

The problem with lumps and bumps in dogs is that they’re impossible to accurately diagnosis without a biopsy or fine-needle aspiration.

Only about 2% of sebaceous tumors are malignant (cancerous).

The good news is that even if the tumor is malignant, they rarely spread.

Malignant, localized tumors are easier to treat (depending on their location) through surgical removal.

If surgical removal is necessary, a wide-margin around the tumor is excised in order to capture all of the cancerous cells.

Sebaceous adenomas in dogs are harmless.

Malignant Tumors You Should Know About

Sebaceous Carcinoma

Any time you hear the word “carcinoma”, think cancer.

Roughly 2% of sebaceous tumors are malignant meaning it can spread to other parts of the dog’s body.

However, this specific type of tumor is rarely malignant and is unlikely to spread. For that reason, treatment options are easier and quicker.

In the unlikely event that your dog has sebaceous carcinoma, the veterinarian will discuss the treatment options with you.

Don’t be afraid to ask about the prognosis, staging, or grading of the tumor.

Again, in most cases removal of sebaceous gland tumors is straightforward and can frequently be done with a simple local anesthetic.

If further treatment is needed, your veterinarian will inform you of options.

Mast Cell Tumors

The first malignant tumor that comes to mind are mast cell tumors.

Generally speaking, they don’t have the same cauliflower appearance of a sebaceous adenoma, but they still require the care of a licensed veterinarian.

Mast cell tumors can appear anywhere on the body and are not easily identified without a biopsy. Depending on the stage and grade of the tumor, surgical removal may be recommended.

During the operation, a wide margin of skin around the tumor is taken for further testing.

The idea is to get all of the cancer out and to make sure it hasn’t had a chance to spread.

Malignant Melanoma

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can affect people and pets. The disease is caused by exposure to direct sunlight and results in a dark sore or lump on the dog’s body.

Like many new lumps and bumps, it’s hard to know exactly what you’re dealing with until you seek the help of a veterinarian.

If you spot a lump on your dog’s head (including the mouth, lips, and eye) that doesn’t share any of the characteristics of a sebaceous adenoma, make an appointment with the veterinarian as soon as possible.

The life expectancy of a dog with malignant melanoma depends on the stage and grade of the lump.

Other factors that could play into your dog’s life expectancy include age and underlying health conditions.

What’s the Difference Between Sebaceous Adenomas and Sebaceous Hyperplasia?

Benign tumors in dogs can all look very much alike. Common tumors of the sebaceous glands include (but are not limited to):

  • Nodular hyperplasia
  • Sebaceous Epithelioma
  • Meibomian Adenoma
  • Meibomian Ductal Adenoma
  • Hepatoid Gland Adenoma
  • Hepatoid Gland Epithelioma

The differences involve complicated processes within the skin cells and the various names generally refer to where on the dog’s body the tumors occur (for example, meibomian adenomas occur around the eyelid and hepatoid gland adenoma refers to enlarged sweat glands located around the dog’s anus).

Which Dog Breeds are More Likely to Develop Sebaceous Adenomas?

Dogs between 8-13 years are at an increased risk and the breeds that are genetically predisposed include:

  • English Cocker Spaniel
  • Cocker Spaniel
  • Samoyed
  • Siberian Husky,
  • Cock-a-poo
  • Alaskan Malamute
  • West Highland White Terrier
  • Cairn Terrier
  • Dachshund
  • Miniature Poodle
  • Miniature Schauzer
  • Toy Poodle
  • Shih Tzu
  • Basset Hounds
  • Beagles
  • Kerry Blue Terriers.

3 Easy “Treatments” for Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs.

It’s important to emphasize just how many different types of benign tumors dogs can develop.

To an untrained eye, they can look a lot alike. Ultimately, the important thing isn’t so much the official title of the tumor. What’s important is making sure the tumor is non-cancerous.

Do not attempt to remove tumors or cysts from home. In addition to causing your dog extreme pain, there is a high risk of infection which can lead to more problems in the long run.

#1. Do Nothing

Veterinarians see these common benign tumors frequently. Generally, the advice is to do nothing at all. Sebaceous adenomas are common in middle-aged and senior dogs.

They will not go away on their own, but they shouldn’t pose a problem either. Unless the tumor is in a place where it is particularly bothersome to the dog, it’s safer to leave it alone than to subject an older dog to anesthesia.

#2. Watch For Changes

This isn’t exactly a “treatment”, but it’s still an important thing to watch for. It’s rare for sebaceous tumors to become cancerous, but it’s worth watching for signs of change including the following:

  • sudden growth of the tumor
  • changes in color and texture
  • signs of ulceration or bleeding
  • excessive scratching or biting of the area

The signs noted above do not mean that the sebaceous tumor has become cancerous. Sebaceous adenomas can be itchy for dogs and, depending on their location, your dog may decide to bite on it or scratch the area excessively. Redness, inflammation, and bleeding could be a sign that the lump should be removed.

They can also be a sign of developing cancer in older dogs.

Remember that multiple problems can be going on in your dog at once. That doesn’t mean they are all dangerous. It’s very important to bring your middle-aged or senior dog for annual check-ups to establish a baseline of what’s “normal” for your dog.

#3. Your Dog’s General Health

It’s easy to become hyper-focused on the benign tumor and forget about the health of the dog as a whole. Changes to eating habits, appetite, lethargy, vomiting and/or diarrhea can be symptoms of anything from parasitic infections to an upset stomach.

If your dog does exhibit other signs of illness as noted above, be sure to have a veterinarian do an assessment. Better safe than sorry.

sebaceous adenomas develop from under the skin

What Causes Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs?

Your dog’s skin is complicated. The epidermis, which is the uppermost level, covers and protects your dog against heat, cold, and protects the organs from damage. Any hormonal or chemical disruption to the skin can cause disturbances that result in infection, inflammation, clogged pores, and even infected hair follicles.

As we age (and as our dogs age), the skin changes. The natural oils and elasticity of youth disappear. Your dog’s skin may become drier or oilier.

The coat may thin and even the texture of the fur might change somewhat. All of these hormonal shifts and changes in the body trigger the epithelial cells into action. Sometimes, the result is a cancerous growth. Other times, the changes result in the common dog wart, or sebaceous adenoma.

Sebaceous adenomas are benign tumors of the oil gland (sebaceous) cells of the skin. The result is a cauliflower-like eruption that is unsightly, but not dangerous. In some cases, dogs may develop sebaceous cysts or even seborrhea (dermatitis).


At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that cysts and tumors can look very much alike. Watch for changes in size and the overall health of your dog. Lumps and bumps in dogs are complicated and can only truly be diagnosed through examination of the cells.

This post was meant for educational purposes only and has not been verified by a licensed veterinarian. Please bring your dog to a professional for diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sebaceous Adenomas in Dogs

How Do You Treat Sebaceous Adenomas?

In most cases, aggressive treatment is not necessary. They are considered a cosmetic legion. They may be unsightly, but are not usually dangerous.

Could a sebaceous adenoma fall off?

Unfortunately, sebaceous adenomas do not fall off on their own.

How can I tell if my dog has a sebaceous adenoma?

These benign tumors of the oil glands are also known as “old dog warts” because of their appearance. They commonly affect middle age to senior dogs (especially terriers, poodles, cocker spaniels and miniature schnauzers).

Look for multiple raised, hairless, lobulated (having small lobes) masses that look white or pale pink. They are typically 1/4 inch to 1 inch in diameter and appear on the trunk, legs, feet, or face.

Can sebaceous adenomas become cancerous?

Sebaceous adenomas do not become cancerous. However, it’s always best for a veterinarian to make the diagnosis. Sometimes lumps end up looking alike and it’s difficult to tell a benign lump from a cancerous one.


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Dermatology Clinic for Animals


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Natural Dog Wart Removal from Your Own Home - Dog Wart Treatment the Natural Way

Finding a new lump on your dog can be scary. Any time you find a new lump or bump, it’s important to see your veterinarian to ensure it isn’t anything serious. But the good news is that not all lumps and bumps are cause for concern.  

One common but benign skin lump that occurs in dogs is a sebaceous cyst. These lumps are slow-growing and may occasionally rupture, but in most cases they are relatively harmless for your dog.  

Knowing how to identify and address sebaceous cysts on your dog can help you be sure that your dog’s skin is staying as healthy as possible. 

What is a Sebaceous Cyst?

Dog sitting on the couch looking sad

In a dog’s skin there are many microscopic structures called sebaceous glands. These glands are responsible for secreting sebum, an oily or waxy substance that lubricates the skin and hair shafts.  

A sebaceous cyst is a dilation (opening) of the ducts within the sebaceous gland, causing fluid to accumulate.  

True sebaceous cysts are rare in dogs, but the term is often used interchangeably with other types of cysts. Follicular cysts—sac-like structures often associated with the hair follicles—are much more common in dogs but are generally included under this catch-all term.

What Does a Sebaceous Cyst Look Like on a Dog?

A sebaceous cyst typically appears as a small, raised, well-defined round structure in the skin.  Usually these cysts are solitary, but some dogs may be prone to getting several cysts in the same area of the body.  

A sebaceous cyst may be firm or it may feel like it is filled with fluid. If the cyst is infected, it may be red, inflamed, and painful. Sebaceous cysts can sometimes rupture and may discharge fluid, pus, or blood.

What Causes Sebaceous Cysts on Dogs?

Happy dog with head tilted playing outside

In most cases, we don’t know what causes sebaceous cysts on dogs. Some dogs may be more prone to developing sebaceous cysts due to their genetics. Others may develop cysts due to skin infections, scar tissue, trauma, or inflammation. Fortunately, in most cases we do not need to know what caused the cyst in order to address it. 

Sebaceous Cyst Symptoms in Dogs

Back of dog's head outside

Most pet owners will first notice a sebaceous cyst when they discover a raised bump on their dog’s skin. The bump can range from 0.5 cm to 5 cm in size—about the size of a pea to the size of two quarters.  

A sebaceous cyst is typically slow-growing and may not bother the dog at all.  

Other signs of a sebaceous cyst can include:

  • Swelling or redness around the area
  • Pain
  • Hair loss around the bump
  • Pus or fluid discharge

Common Places Sebaceous Cysts Develop on Dogs

Sebaceous cysts can occur anywhere on the body, but may be more common along the head, neck, and trunk. Some dogs will develop multiple cysts along the ears or around the anus.  

Occasionally, sebaceous cysts can develop on pressure points like the hips and elbows, especially if the dog is frequently laying on hard surfaces.  

How to Diagnose a Sebaceous Cyst

Happy dog at the vet

It’s always important to discuss any new lumps and bumps with your veterinarian so they can be appropriately diagnosed. Your veterinarian will perform a full physical examination on your dog, including assessing the location, size, and appearance of the bump.  

Your veterinarian may also recommend the following tests:

Fine Needle Aspirate and Cytology. Your veterinarian may recommend taking a sample from the bump using a needle and syringe. This sample can then be examined under a microscope. Often your veterinarian can determine whether the bump is a cyst or a tumor based on this sample.

Biopsy. In some cases, an appropriate sample cannot be obtained using a needle alone.  When this happens, your veterinarian may recommend surgically removing all or part of the bump and submitting it to a diagnostic laboratory for evaluation. This is usually the best way to get a definitive diagnosis.

Dog Sebaceous Cyst Treatment

Happy dog laying on ground at home

Cysts are typically benign and slow-growing, so treatment is often not needed. Your veterinarian may recommend simply monitoring the area.  

If the cyst is growing or bothering your dog, your vet may recommend surgery to remove it. It’s best not to try to pop these cysts at home. Doing so may cause inflammation and infection, and may be painful for your dog.

Medications to Treat Sebaceous Cysts on Dogs

In most cases, sebaceous cysts will not go away with medication alone.  The only way to definitively cure a sebaceous cyst is to surgically remove it.  However, your veterinarian may prescribe medication to help manage the problem if the cyst becomes infected. These medications may include:

Antibiotics. If your dog’s cyst is infected, your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection. These may include pills or topical ointments.  You may notice that the cyst shrinks or that the discharge resolves once your dog has completed the antibiotic course.

Anti-inflammatories. If the cyst is inflamed or painful, your veterinarian may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs or steroids to help. These are typically prescribed as a pill, although sometimes a topical steroid cream may be used.  

General Cost to Treat Sebaceous Cysts

Sebaceous cysts often do not require any treatment at all, so they are very inexpensive to manage in most cases. Your veterinarian may recommend simply monitoring the cyst for any changes.  

If surgery is required to remove the cyst, pet owners can expect to spend about $500-$1,000 depending on the size, location, and number of cysts involved. If you have a pet health insurance policy, such as Lemonade, it can help cover the costs of necessary surgery for eligible conditions. 

How to Prevent Sebaceous Cysts on Dogs

Dog being brushed at grooming salon

Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any effective ways to prevent sebaceous cysts in dogs.  Although we don’t know exactly what causes some dogs to develop sebaceous cysts, it has been hypothesized that genetics play a role.  

However, keeping your dogs skin and coat healthy with regular grooming is always a good idea for your dog’s comfort and overall health. 

Related Conditions

  • Follicular cyst
  • Dermoid sinus
  • Sebaceous adenoma
  • Nodular panniculitis

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