Finding lumps and bumps on your dog can be scary, especially when you don’t know what they are. While it might be nothing to worry about, there could be cause for concern – especially if it goes unchecked.
Masses, like cysts and lipoma, are a common issue dogs can face due to a variety of factors. Read on to learn more about the different types of cysts on dogs, what to look out for, and when to get a veterinarian’s opinion.
A cyst is a mass found on or under the skin that’s filled with fluid or solid materials.1 They’re most often filled with keratin and dead skin cells, or sebum (an oily substance), but it depends on the type of cyst.
Cysts can be caused by a variety of factors, including blocked pores (aka comedones), infections, reactions to medication, or genetic predispositions.1 Here are a few breeds that may be at higher risk of developing cysts:1
There are a few different types of cysts found on dogs, including true cysts, dermoid cysts, follicular cysts, sebaceous cysts, and false cysts.2 While there are different internal cysts like ovarian or kidney cysts that you won’t be able to identify by simply touching your dog, there are some cysts you can identify that are closer to the surface of your dog’s skin.1
A true cyst has a membrane that lines the cyst and produces secretions like sebum.2 They often show up where your dog’s glands are located like the head, neck, and body. These cysts are typically a result of a blocked duct, which causes excess oil production in a concentrated area. They can be removed surgically, but the membrane must be removed in its entirety to prevent the cyst from returning.2
Dermoid cysts are considered to be rare, and usually caused by genetic predispositions.1 When these cysts occur, there’s a separation of the top layer of the skin from the tissue underneath.2 Similar to a true cyst, a dermoid cyst can also be removed with a surgical procedure.
Follicular cysts — also known as epidermoid cysts — are one of the most common forms of cysts found on dogs.2 They appear as the result of inflamed hair follicles, can vary in color and texture, and can even be accompanied by a foul odor.1 They can be found around the mouth and the legs, and often clear up on their own.
While it may be tempting to pop these cysts when you see them on your dog, it’s best to leave them alone to avoid infection. If you notice a cyst growing in size or it appears to be infected, consider consulting your vet to see if medication or surgery is needed.
Sebaceous cysts are caused by oil glands in the skin and are also fairly common. They can be found around the head, neck, and the tops of your dog’s legs.1 Sebaceous types of cysts on dogs can easily become infected or even become cancerous if they don’t go away on their own. So it’s important to monitor them closely to avoid bigger problems from developing.3
A false cyst does not have the membrane that other cysts have.2 They’re often the result of a trauma to the area, where dead tissue builds up to create what looks like a cyst from the outside.2 Most false cysts go away on their own once the trauma heals.