Sebaceous Cysts In Dogs And Cats

Sebaceous cysts are interesting structures.

All pores and hair follicles in the skin are surrounded by microscopic oil glands. These glands produce the oil that makes our pets’ hair (and our own hair) shiny, as well as producing a protective and moisturizing layer for the hair and skin. This oil is called sebum.

Sebaceous cysts occur when a normal pore or hair follicle becomes occluded. Occlusion can occur from dirt, infection, scar tissue or even normal sebum that becomes too thick to move out of the pore’s opening.

As long as the cysts are small, closed and intact they cause no problems.

Please do not squeeze them.

Sebaceous cysts become problematic when they burst and become open to the outside world again. Frequently then they become infected and must be removed surgically. Surgical removal becomes necessary when the cyst will not heal with topical and systemic antibiotics and/or irrigation.

Sebaceous cysts may also rupture under the skin and spill their oily contents into the surrounding tissues. The result is an intense inflammation causing a red, itchy area the pet is likely to lick, scratch and rub. These lesions may even be confused with a lick granuloma because both are highly inflamed and very itchy.

Early sebaceous cysts are usually white, raised and quiet-looking. As long as they stay in this phase they require no medical treatment.

It is when complications occur and they become inflamed that medical and/or surgical attention is needed for sebaceous cysts.

See you tomorrow, Dr. Randolph.

sebatious, sebacious


  1. Christopher Pitts says:

    So what happens if it pops on the inside. My 14 year old boxer had a sebaceous cyst on his right hip. It got quite hard at one time. Over the night at some point it had popped. Internally. Now he is very sic and deathly. Did his sickness come from the sebaceous cyst popping. I know he is old and I dont want him to suffer. Is it too late? Is it just his time? Would it be more proper if I were to have him put down? Please let me know. Thank you.

    • “So what happens if it pops on the inside?” The article says, “Sebaceous cysts may also rupture under the skin and spill their oily contents into the surrounding tissues. The result is an intense inflammation causing a red, itchy area the pet is likely to lick, scratch and rub. These lesions may even be confused with a lick granuloma because both are highly inflamed and very itchy.” I seriously doubt your pet is ill because of a sebaceous cyst rupturing. Please make an appointment with his veterinarian so that he can be evaluated. Thank you for reading, Dr. Randolph.

  2. Can you please help me? I have a female Chihuahua and she has a weird head coming out of her nipple she I’d in no pain the nipple is bruised but again she has no pain. What do I need to do ? She is normal other than that.

  3. Kelly says:

    My cat has a cyst on the back of his head, and after it grew to the size of a marble, it shrunk back to nothing. Weeks later it grew back, and starting leaking (mainly clear fluid, sometimes a little blood as he kept scratching), we finally managed to get a vets appointment who told us it was benign, just infected. We had a 5 day course of very strong antibiotics that cleared it up a bit, but not completely. The vets told us that since it’s not life threatening he won’t require surgery and because he’s 15, they wouldn’t risk surgery to remove it. The cyst starts to heal and close up, but he keeps catching it when grooming leading it to leak clear fluid occasionally. He won’t wear a cone and I fear even if he did, he’d just catch it again anyway. I’ve used a smidge of hydrogen peroxide in warm water to keep it clean, and it hasn’t stopped him eating or playing or being his normal self. Should I just keep clearing it this way, or are there any natural remedies to heal it a bit more? I don’t want him having a leaking head for the rest of his life lol. (The vets won’t give more antibiotics either).

    • Kelly, we would love to help, but we just have too little information without being able to examine your pet. You could either just continue to keep it clean, or seek a second opinion. Thank you for reading

      • Tony says:

        My dog has a small bump on his leg that he keeps licking. It is not growing but he makes it nice and pink after licking. My vet want’s to remove it and send it out to test but it has not grown since I noticed 4 weeks ago. Is there anything I can put on it to keep him from licking it or do I need to keep a cone on for several weeks?

  4. Sharon says:

    I have a 2 yrs old lab, our first pet. She started her cycle on feb 13,2017 and finished the bleeding phase 21 days later. On day 22 I noticed some small cysts around her vagina, outside, in the edge and close to the tail. Apparently is not itchy or painful but the keep growing and appearing more and more, she started with one and now she has like 5. I that normal? I a litter concern about her. I am planning to take her to the vet to get her spayed.
    Please help me.. Thank you.

  5. Calli says:

    My Japanese Spitz, Rupert, had/has a sebaceous cyst on his back under his tail. He cannot reach to scratch it which is great, and last June it popped and leaked keratin. Our vet cleaned it up and gave him some antibiotics and it scabbed over. 7 months later the scab remains! It’s very thick, but is obviously protecting the hole underneath. Is it normal for a scab to remain this long? He isn’t bothered by it one bit. Thanks 🙂

    • It’s also possible that what you’re seeing isn’t a scab, but, dried, caked sebum that has turned dark with exposure to air. As sebum is an oil product, it will also collect dirt, which can help it turn dark. Bottom line: it’s plugged up and keeping bacteria from invading into the oil gland and/or skin. If you must have a sebaceous cyst, a quiet one is the one to have! Thanks for reading

  6. Alison says:

    I have sweet older kitty and I noticed a fluid filled lump under her skin. As I was feeling it, it seemed to drain when I squeezed it lightly or almost dissappear slowly. Now I can’t find it at all! I’m not sure if I should be concerned or what to do since I can’t find another spot like it. She doesn’t seem hurt and didn’t struggle or mind that I was inspecting it.

    • THE safest thing to do would be to have her seen. On the other hand, will the doctor be able to find anything? That’s an unknown, but, it’s not unusual that we can find things pet owners can’t. From that perspective, I would recommend having her examined. If you decide against an examination, be sure to watch for lethargy, loss of appetite, soreness in the general area where you found the lump, and fever. Best wishes, and thank you for reading

  7. Kelly says:

    Our labradoodle had a subcutaneous cyst that burst and leaked and bled for quite some time. We applied polysporin topically. It is now healed but the fur around the area has turned dark black (he is brown) and is no longer curly like the rest of his fur. Have you ever seen anything like that? Are colour changes worrisome?

    • Areas of skin inflammation often exhibit skin color change as the body puts pigment in the skin as a protective response. Hair color can change because of damage to the melanocytes, pigment-producing cells. Either can be temporary or permanent, but rarely are a medical concern. In older pets such changes bear watching by your veterinarian in case they are associated with malignancy. Thank you for reading

      • Scooter Thompson says:

        Dear Dr. Randolph,
        Scooter is my 18-year-old cat, A Russian Siberian, wonderful smart old guy. He has a ruptured cyst on his neck. He has had the cyst for years. I just noticed it is open with dry blood; but, less than a 1/2 diameter. He is eating and drinking. Tomorrow, I will take him to his vet. For tonight, can I put people-Neosporin on the wound?
        Thank you in advance for your thoughts.

  8. sdawson says:

    I have a question about my 7 yr old male ragdoll cat. I noticed a bump on the upper part of his stomach and it seemed like a scab put was poking out of his skin. I pulled it out to see what it was and it was hard at the top and then waxy on the end with hair on it…it keeps coming back slowly and this time I felt the bump underneath his skin so I squeezed it and a thick, waxy thing came out and seems to have hair stuck to it. I’ve done some research and cannot find any answers. the cat doesn’t seem to bothered when I touch it and it has never bled or been red. Do you have any suggestions? I will take him to the vet if necessary, just trying to avoid the crazy costs!
    thanks in advance

    • “Crazy costs?” Have you taken your child or yourself to see a physician lately? Veterinary medicine is the greatest healthcare bargain on the planet. If your pet isn’t bothered by the lesion it will probably be OK to have it looked at on your next regular visit. Thanks for reading

    • Toonces says:

      My cat has the same thing. He had a small lump, size of a nipple that slowly grew to the size of a xl large marble over 9 months. Yesterday it had a small area with what I thought was a head of an infection. It had never been never painful to him, so I scraped it and put pressure on it. He didn’t like it, howled a bit, but was fine the moment I stopped. First white and then gray very thick material came out. No blood or pus at all, actually nothing wet. Almost like gum or playdough. When I looked at it closer, it was hair compacted with a white stuff. He is grey, and the hair is identical. He has no pain or sensitivity at the spot, but there is still something left. I am afraid to keep squeezing it. But I also can not afford a vet trip. What happened with your cat?

  9. Mkenny says:

    My American Eskimo had a sebaceous cyst on her tail. It ruptured and she now has this hole. It bleeds and forms a scab, however every time I go to check on it (about once a week) the scab pops right back out and the process starts all over again. It is not infected and I never see her chewing on it. It is as if the hole will not close. What would need to be done to get it to finally heal? Is surgery the only option at this point? It has been about three months now. It does not bleed a lot. Just enough to clog the whole. Appreciate your advice.

    • Ctrl-F while on the page the post is on, and type in “foreign” to the resulting search window. This lesion may or may not be infected, but the foreign-body reaction will probably have to be surgically excised in order for the lesion to heal.

  10. Jo says:

    Hi Dr. Randolph. My 10 y.o. Bullmastiff recently had surgery to have two sebaceous cysts removed after they had opened up. One from the top of his head, and one from his left hip/butt area. After surgery he was prescribed Tramadol for pain and Rovera for inflammation. Day 1 he seemed ok, definitely had trouble walking (we assumed from the cyst removal on his hind leg/hip), he was breathing VERY heavily and was sedated for a while from the meds. By day 3 we felt the meds were making him worse. He was still having trouble walking (vet said this would be better after day 2), loss of appetite and panting for long periods of time. Worried, I called the vet and she said to stop the meds and see how he does. Now he doesn’t seem to be in pain, but his breathing is still heavy, he is having trouble walking and maintaining balance, he has lost interest in his food (and ours) and we don’t know what to do. ): I’m scared to death that we did this to him by having him undergo surgery. We are taking him to the vet tomorrow, but I don’t think I can sleep without knowing he can AND WILL get better. Please help!!!! ):

    • I’m sorry I was delayed getting to your question. Certainly he needed re-examination and re-evaluation, and, possibly, a chest X-ray. Can you write back and tell me how he’s doing now, and what the doctor found on the followup?

  11. Patrick Harrison says:

    I don’t think my dog is suffering from a subacious cyst,but I don’t know so….
    I have an 8yr old pitbull,Rufus, and this morning he was perfectly fine. This afternoon he spent about 2hrs outside and it was very hot. I went to bring him inside and right away I felt something was wrong. He has this swelling from his collar to his tail along his spine on both sides and spreading a couple inches down his sides from his spine. There are no noticeable lumps, bumps, bites,or lesions. But all the way down in several spots there is a clear-ish blood-tinged fluid, (not like puss), that seems to be seeping from his pores. He is very obviously in pain and flinches at the lightest touch. There is nothing in the yard that would’ve caused this, and I have another pitbull, 4yrs old, who was in the exact same spot for the same amount of time, although not at the same exact time, and she is fine. Please help me. Does he need a vet? Does this sound like a serious condition requiring medical attention?

  12. Elena says:

    I have 6.5 y.o. miniature schnauzer girl (dog). She was diagnosed with 2,5×3 cm cyst that grew up on her left hip over 3 years.
    After biopsy was done, we scheduled a surgery in 3 weeks, but cyst ruptured under the skin that caused the inflammation.
    It opened up a week before surgery and started releasing puss and blood. Past Friday (06/24/16) vet performed a surgery cleaning up the site.
    When I came to pick her up, I saw the scar on her leg 2,5 inches long, going right under original cyst. But it looks like original cyst was not open (no scar over the cyst and original area is still steaking above the skin level). I asked the vet about this issue and she said that she made the cut and cleared everything around (everything under loose skin). The dog is on antibiotics right now and on pills to prevent pain and inflammation.
    Nevertheless, I still see that area above her scar is slightly swollen and it borders me.
    I am wondering if cyst ruptured under the skin, did it release all puss and would it be possible/enough to clean it up without cutting the cyst site itself but inflammation only?
    Or, cyst is still there? May it heal up as is?
    What to ask vet about?
    We are going to see her in a week from now(week after surgery)

    • Gee, Elena, I’m really sorry, but I just don’t have enough information to be able to answer your questions. Even seeing the patient probably wouldn’t give us all of the answers, because some of what you’re asking about happened down inside the tissues, where no one can see. I wish I could have been more help. Thank you for reading, Dr. Randolph.

  13. jcline says:

    I have a 18 year old cat that keeps developing cysts. The 1st time the vet was going to do a biopsy, but when she stuck a needle in fluid came out, so she said it was a cyst and it drained. After a couple of months it came back larger than before. I had this drained again and it came back larger again, within a week. The 3rd time she drained it with a larger hole and had us clean the hole to keep it open as long as possible. It closed up from the inside out and now the cyst has come back, fairly large (over 2 inches)and it seems to bother her. She has torn her skin off from scratching it. The vet doesn’t want to do any kind of major surgery because of her age. Not sure what to do at this point.

  14. gyl says:

    My lab just had a large lipoma removed on his FRONT leg only because it split and burst out of his leg. We had no choice. however since the op he has become lame on his BACK leg and drags his foot ., he also slips over as the leg gives way , We have spent a fortune on various pills including steroids to no avail.The vet tells me the surgery possibly has caused an ageing effect . Any advice please?

  15. D. George says:

    I have a 12 year old golden retriever who has suffered from atopic allergies since she was 2 years old. For the last 3 or 4 years, she has been on Atopica, and Temaril P when there is a flare up. In the last 3-4 years, she has developed sebaceous cysts of massive size, that even amaze her Vet. Due to her age, and the fact that the cysts don’t seem to bother her, we don’t have them removed. Only 3 have opened, and I’d say she has a dozen or more on her. 2 of the ones that opened resolved themselves with the help of an antibiotic. The one on her tail is very large and oblong, filled with a lot of clear fluid and scar tissue. It has a little larger than a pin size opening now, that almost works like a pressure valve, keeping the size from growing any more. No inflammation is seen. My adult children laugh at it, calling it her testicle, which is exactly what it looks like..ugh. My question is, should I put light pressure on this cyst to remove the clear liquid? At times, when full, if I so much as touch the cyst, the fluid comes out of the small hole with such force that it will shoot 3 or so feet, so there is obviously pressure on the skin.

    • “filled with a lot of clear fluid and scar tissue” is odd behavior for a sebaceous cyst. I understand your reluctance to have a biopsy performed because of her age. Without it, though, it’s hard to provide specific advice. As stated above, though, I don’t like squeezing them for the reasons stated.

  16. Loraine says:

    Hello. I will truly appreciate some advice. We took our Basset to the vet to remove a cyst on her shoulder. They made a cut in a shape of a cross below the cyst and told us the cut will remain open in order for the fluid to drain. This does not seem right to me. Is this normal? They also told us that we are not allowed to close the wound and that it needs to dry out. However, our dog keeps scratching at it, which makes the wound bleed and grow in size.
    Please help.

  17. amanda says:

    I have a 7 year old daschund named Toby. He has a spot on his head that for many, many months now has shown up and then disappeared. It is the color of his skin which is black. It will fill up and when it does, it is soft to the touch, but looks about ready to burst…it never actually bursts though. Eventually it will begin to grow smaller and smaller until it is flat and all tou can see or feel, is a tiny stretched piece of skin….a few weeks later it will fill up again….repeat in same manner over and over. At first I was worried and wanted to rake him to the vet but didn’t have the money….then when it started draining and coming back, I am curious….it doesn’t appear to hurt him at all! And other than the swelling while it is filled it has never gotten any bigger…..

  18. Alyson says:

    Thank-you for taking the time with my question. I have read your previous posts and would like to ask: once a benign cyst (1/2 dollar size, previously diagnosed and vet told us to leave it alone) ruptures on its own at home,(it was clear with some tiny white fragments) and has stopped bleeding, can my dog’s vet stitch the two round open holes it left open together under local anthesia? The cyst area in on a 50lb golden retriever, age 10. I don’t want her to go under anethesia if this will heal with a few stiches now. Since it has ruptered and dranined, will it fill up again? I cleaned it and put a gauze bandage over the holes until she sees the vet Monday. Thank-you

    • Alyson, these are all questions your attending veterinarian can answer for you. He has examined your pet; I have not. He knows his capabilities and preferences; I do not. I do hope that you will write back to us and let us know the outcome of your pet’s experience. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  19. missshyhinata says:

    My Shih Tzu has a very large lump on the base of his tail. This morning I realized it was bleeding a little and it looked like it had a small hole, and a while ago I noticed it was bleeding more. He keeps licking it, and he won’t let me get near it because of the pain. I’m not sure if I have the money for a vet visit right now can you help?

    • “I’m not sure if I have the money for a vet visit right now.” Missy, I’m sorry that I’m not going to be able to help you. I can’t see the lesion and, even if I could, I couldn’t necessarily say by sight alone what it is. Your first step needs to be to call your veterinarian and find out how much an office visit/examination will cost. Then, save for it so that you can have your local doctor evaluate the spot, tell you what it is and what specific treatment it needs. If it’s cancer, or a bad infection, that needs to happen sooner rather than later. Please keep us posted on what the doctor says and how your pet responds to therapy.

  20. jt says:

    Can you give a dog a bath when they have a ruptured cyst?

  21. johng says:

    My dog has these clearish fluid filled sacs on her neck. There are many of them but the size of maybe a tick. I actually thought they were at first. What could this be? And what if they get irritated and red?

  22. Tkemp2772 says:

    My female has recently mated, now I noticed red pimple like bumps on her vagina, and she’s been licking it often, could this be the cysts or just pimples or ingrown hairs? If so what can I give her to make the ithcing and bumps go away?

    • If your dog is pregnant she deserves the best care you can provide, which means that you should call her regular veterinarian and make an appointment to have the problem examined lest it endanger her health and the health of the puppies. I have never seen sebaceous cysts on the vulva.

  23. Savanna says:

    I have a blue heeler mix that has a bump the size of a quarter on his neck. It’s not too hard but it’s smooth and round. It doesn’t seem to bug him when you touch it or squeez it. I took a clean syringe and poked it to see if it was filled with puss but this brown oily looking stuff came out. I didn’t keep draining it because I thought it was blood but it wasn’t. I don’t have money to take him to the vet but I was wondering if you knew what it was?

    • Well, Savanna, no, I don’t know what it was, but it may no longer be what it was. If you noticed, one of the most important things I said about sebaceous cysts is that they remain intact; that is, un-squeezed and un-opened. IF it is a sebaceous cyst, it’s now been exposed, which could lead to infection or leakage of sebum into the skin. Both of these complications require surgical repair. Also, if it’s a cancerous mass, you may have seeded the surrounding tissues with cancer. I’m not a fan of lay people sticking needles into pets, any more than I am a fan of mothers sticking needles into their children. My recommendation is: save your money until you can go see a doctor of veterinary medicine to have your pet treated properly.

  24. TaylonM34 says:

    I need help! I have a 7 week old pit bull puppy and he has a swollen toe on his rear right paw. He’s in a lot of pain and can’t walk with out limping. The swollen part has a dark purple spot with a clearish-yellow liquid coming out. It only comes out when it’s squeezed. I have no clue what it is or what’s wrong or what to do! Do you have any ideas or suggestions? Thanks, Taylon.

    • Taylon, your puppy needs more help than an email can provide. If there is an emergency hospital available to you, go there. Otherwise, call for an appointment first thing Monday morning so that he can be seen and diagnosed and treated appropriately. Please write back and tell me what the doctor finds. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  25. Summer says:

    I need help. I have a female six month old bull terrier and pitt bull mix. About two months ago I noticed a bump, almost like a pimple on her vagina, so I waited a few days and after seeing that it wouldn’t go away on its own, I popped it. It went away for a couple weeks and then it came back. Is there anything I can do? I have no idea what it is at all. Help!

    • Summer, I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell you what’s going on with your little dog because I can’t examine her. She needs to go in and see her regular, local doctor and get a diagnosis. If you continue to let this slide the result could be infection into the urinary tract, and you certainly don’t want to have to deal with that.

  26. Kimmiekat says:

    Hi I’m Kimmie and I have a cat who is an indoor outdoor cat. She has a bump under her skin with a hole in the middle. We don’t have enough money for a veterinarian and I am really worried.

  27. Raine Lor says:

    Hi, I’m 13 years old and there’s a stray cat that has a clipped ear which means it’s been spayed or neutered. She (I think it’s a girl) likes to be petted but not carried. When I was petting her she had like a bump in the middle of her neck and by the ear she went off then a while later she came back and I think she scratched, cut, or it popped and my sister said some white stuff was by where it popped so I’m ready worried please help. P.S my parents don’t like animals.

    • Hello, Raine. Several possibilities exist to explain what happened with the stray kitty. First, let me explain for those who don’t know that the clipped ear is not something that all patients have performed when they are spayed or neutered, just TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) cats. TNR cats are feral and thus are allowed to live a normal lifespan (which is pretty short for feral cats) and usually the only medical attention they receive is spay/neuter surgery. Some facilities perform a rabies vaccination at the time of the surgery. Your stray kitty could have suffered an abscess from a fight. Click here to read about abscesses. It’s not the right time of year in most places, but if you live in an especially warm climate, a Cuterebra larva could have infected her. Click here to read about Cuterebra. Or, she may have experienced a rupture of a sebaceous cyst. Look above to read about sebaceous cysts. You can also use the SEARCH PANE in the upper right hand corner of this page to search for “sebaceous cyst” . Be sure to use the quotation marks. Feel free to write to us if you have any more questions about your little TNR kitty.

  28. wobfarmer65 says:

    Hi, I have a West Highland Terrier who suffers from sebaceous cysts. He has had three surgically removed in the passed, he has two or three which have recently burst or are in the process of bursting. He was on steroids to try to help, and to a degree this did help but not 100%. We are now trying a dietary method, with additional steroid cream when I notice a limp appearing. I was just wondering whether you had any thoughts as to what we can try to help stop these forming?
    Many thanks
    Rob Farmer

  29. Holly says:

    Dr. Randolph – My cat just had a sebaceous cyst removed from the middle of her tail. The pathology came back and we were told that the cells in the middle of the cyst were abnormal and would be classified as melanoma. I’m told that this is very rare and I can’t seem to find any information on it. We will be going back in to see the veterinarian in a few days for suture removal and she will then reccomend some oncologists but I wanted to see if you had any off-shelf information? I had thought that only tumors could be malignant so I’m kind of confused. Thank you!

    • Remember when Winston Churchill called Russia an enigma wrapped in a riddle surrounded by a mystery? That’s exactly what your cat has done. She has grown a probably-cancerous mass in/under a cutaneous (skin) abnormality. As you’ve already said, melanoma is rare in cats. I’ve seen only one case, and the kitty belonged to a good friend of mine who moved to Atlanta and had surgical debulking and radiation on a lesion on his nose. Unfortunately, it was eventually fatal, but the oncologist at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine was able to buy some really good quality time for Sam. For the definition of tumor,
      click on this link and scroll down to “tumor.” It’s different from what many people think.

  30. jenifer_rene06 says:

    I’m wondering how long it takes for a sebaceous cyst to form in comparison to what I’m now concerned is growing on my dog’s nose. Shih-poo, 3 yrs old, 6 lbs. It’s been about a week and a half since I noticed this pink/skin-colored bump on the bridge of her nose. At first it looked like a possible wart since it was so small and flesh-colored, but it’s grown to the size of a pea in the past 2 weeks. I looked at it this morning and the top of it started to look a little red and possibly crusty looking, so I called my veterinarian and she said this might be a sebaceous cyst. It doesn’t seem to cause her pain, of course when I touch it she moves her head all over which could hurt, but I cant be sure as she’s not squealing.
    I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do at home before taking her in to avoid spending the close to $100 for the veterinarian’s appointment/ lancing procedure fee? Most definitely will if I have to, but am praying there’s away to make this heal naturally?

    • Sorry, Jenifer Rene, but there are no shortcuts here. The best scenario is you make the examination appointment and the lesion is a sebaceous cyst which requires no treatment. But, just as I can’t tell from an email what the problem is, your veterinarian can’t tell over the phone. What if the other extreme turns out to be the case, and it’s a malignant growth? Or infected? You simply can’t afford to take chances with such conditions. Please write back and let us know what is found. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  31. denise23uk says:

    My dog has a small cyst on her vaginal lip. She’s eating and drinking fine and going to the toilet fine. She’s a 4 year old Staffordshire Terrier. She has been spayed. I think it’s because of ingrown hair. I’m taking her to the veterinarian in next few days but till then how do I stop ingrown hairs and would warm water and salt help it? She’s not in any pain.

  32. Suzanne says:

    Hi. My Pekingese gets a bump the size of a small grape at the end of his rectum. When I pop it, clear, unscented liquid comes out and it goes away and then later comes back. What is it?

    • Of course, Suzanne, there is no way for us to know what the lesion is, having never seen it. However, my concern is the SIZE of the lesion. Grape-sized in a Pekingese-sized dog is a concern, and he certainly needs to see his veterinarian for this problem. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  33. Maria says:

    Thanks very much for your quick response and we will discuss with our veterinarian which ones to remove as he did say they may not necessarily be the same. We will also get him to remove one from under his tongue so we can hopefully get a clearer picture. Other than that he is in full health and a typical fun-loving type of his breed.

  34. Maria says:

    I wonder if you can give me any advice. I have a 6 year old Weimeraner and over the past 2-3 years he has been developing more of these hardish slight pinky white growths. You can sort of grab hold of them as though they are just loose under the skin and do not affect him. He has a big one on one of his ears around a centimeter and a half diameter then a slightly smaller one on his neck and several other smaller ones. The odd new one keeps appearing and he has a bump on his head that is not too bad on some days but then others it looks quite prominent. None of them have ever burst of had anything out of them. When he had an operation last year to remove a tooth,our veterinarian said he has some little white spots under his tongue. Our veterinarian does not think any of these are to worry about and to get any idea would be to surgically remove the worst ones and do tests on them which we will do in the new year. Thinking they may be sebaceous cysts. Can you give any thoughts or if it could maybe some kind of immune system problem? We have always had dogs but not seen these before although we are told they are common. Thank you.

  35. tmykland says:

    Thanks for your comments. I did just want to ask one more question: is there any chance of doing cyst removal surgery using just a local anesthetic, rather than having do a general? Maybe this would be safer for my old kitty. The first vet I saw told me she would not operate on her in her present condition. Terri

    • You are welcome, Terri. I have written about parameters veterinarians use in determining the appropriateness of using local anesthesia. You may access the post by clicking here. In fact, use the SEARCH pane in the upper right hand corner of each page to find lots of good information on pet care by searching for what you’re interested in. Keep me, and our readers, updated about what the outcome of your kitty’s situation is.
      Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  36. tmykland says:

    Doctor, my 16 year old cat has a large (1″ diameter) sebaceous cyst, which has broken open after several years and abscessed on top. We have her on antibiotics for the abscess. We’re hoping to avoid surgery as she is old and rather frail. Is there anything we can do to try to make the cyst heal up again and not cause more problems?

  37. SusanH says:

    I have a 10 yr old Maine Coon. He has dozens of little sebaceous cysts all over him. I recently had him shaved (a lion cut) and have just become aware of the number of cysts he has. His coat has always been dull and oily/waxy. He eats Science Diet Nature’s Best supplemented with Solid Gold canned tuna. I squirt Welactin in his mouth as often as he’ll let me (goal is once a day). Have you had a case with this many cysts and do you have any solutions that I can explore with our veterinarian? Thank you!

    • Susan, I’ll bet he’s a beauty! I know of no preventive measures for sebaceous cysts. I have always theorized that a benzoyl peroxide shampoo might be able to keep pores and hair follicles open, making it less likely that sebaceous cysts would be created. However, I don’t know of any research that has been done, or whether it has been tried/recommended by board-certified veterinary dermatologists. Besides, you have a kitty, and how many kitties are going to be good for a medicated bath with a 15-minute soak? Certainly, some are. If you wanted to give it a try, there are a number of benzoyl peroxide shampoos. Your veterinarian can dispense a small bottle of the brand he likes, and you could give it a go! Let us know what happens. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  38. CyndiO says:

    Doctor, I have a question:

    My adult male cat is 2 years 8 months old, two months ago I found a lump between his tail and his thigh. I rushed him to the veterinarian the next morning to have it evaluated. They took two samples from it and came back to tell me they are absolutely 100% sure it is a sebaceous cyst. While they did say it is rare in cats, they told me there was no reason to worry unless it burst, he chews at it, or becomes infected. None of these things have happened. It does not seem to bother him, and he leaves it alone. My concern is this, is there a possibility of the cyst developing into something else? The reason I ask is that I had my animals enrolled for pet insurance this last month and they won’t cover anything pre-exsisting, or related to the preexisting condition. God forbid anything ever happened but I worry if he ended up with cancer they would try to blame the cyst and deny a claim. I spoke with his new veterinarian about this and looked over the charts. They said if I wanted to remove the lump then I should have it biopsied ( for 200.00 more… ) I am wondering if this is necessary in your opinion? ( to a. have it removed, and b. sending it to a lab )

    • Cyndi, the only way for me or your veterinarian at home to answer your question is to take a biopsy. I know of no studies showing sebaceous cysts predisposing a patient to cancer, although the principle that an inflamed area could be more likely to develop into a cancerous lesion is a possibility, that is strictly in the area of theory. Every insurance company has differing policies on preexisting conditions. It can’t hurt to ask your new company about it. They might exclude your kitty for sebaceous cysts, or just for that one, or complications from that one. There is no way for me to know. Certainly, IF you decide to have the lump removed, by all means go ahead with histopathology, if for no other reason than the peace of mind.

  39. Lynda says:

    Dear Dr Randolph, Several years ago I found a lump in my cat’s tail. I took him to the veterinarian and they supposedly removed it. However, it grew back and last year around Christmas he bit the lump and some blood came out. My sister said it was a sebaceous cyst and not to worry. Well, my cat seems fine, has a good appetite and if anything is overweight. But he licks at his tail and sometimes it leaks a relatively clear fluid. If removal is curative I wonder why his came back? What do you suggest?

    • Lynda, upon reading your note, several questions come to mind: 1, When the lump was removed, was histopathology performed to determine exactly what the mass was? 2, Your sister says it is a sebaceous cyst, but what does your veterinarian say it is? 3, If he licks at the lesion, it means it’s bothering him, which means he needs to have his doctor look at it. 4, Removal of sebaceous cysts is curative, for that cyst. At this point, we haven’t established that this is a sebaceous cyst and there is nothing to prevent a new sebaceous cyst from developing right next to the old incision. Even more worrisome is the possibility that a growth could be developing there. Bottom line: He needs to see his doctor!

  40. Ttruss says:

    You are so helpful. Thank you Doctor.

  41. Ttruss says:

    My puppy has a boil-like thing growing on the bottom of her top floppy lip. It’s half the size of 1 green pea. It looks like a boil to me. Should this worry me? Should I take her to a veterinarian?

  42. Jo says:

    I have a Bichon, age 11 and he is getting of these tiny cysts on his head, one on his ear, one on tail and one on his back. Should I be getting nervous that they are cancerous?

    • Sorry, Jo, but having never seen your dog, there is no way for me to answer this question. However, consider that if the lesions ARE cancerous, how much time is passing by not having seen your veterinarian yet. Please take him right away so that these problems may be attended to. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  43. StephyJo says:

    My 1 yr old Dachshund has something growing off her lip. It is grey and looks like a “blossom” of some sort. Meaning when I use my fingers to touch and look at it opens up like one of those fried onion blossoms. Any ideas on what it could be?

    • Thanks for writing, StephyJo. Unfortunately, such a growth could be any one of thousands of things, cancer among them. Your Dachshund will need to see her regular veterinarian for a diagnosis. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  44. jasamluvn says:

    My brother’s dog has lumps on his body. One popped and white stuff came out of it, should he be worried?

  45. I noticed a round lump near my 11 year old lab mix’s rectum. It is soft to the touch and feels fluid-filled. What should I do? I am in healthcare. Could I lance it myself?

  46. jvictoria says:

    I have a German shepherd/lab mix who is 12 years old. He has what I believe to be a sebaceous cyst on his back. It was big and white on top and when we took him to the veterinarian her exact words were, “Hm? I have no clue what that is…” she then proceeded to pop it without knowing what it was. My dog seemed to be in a good amount of pain when she did that and since popping it there has been a consistent flow of blood/fluid/white that comes out of it. It’s not a lot and just seems to have a light dripping but it worries me. I recently took him to another veterinarian and they said the only way to find out what it is is to biopsy it and send it to a lab which would be an estimated $800-$1000 dollars. I am in no financial situation to pay for this, especially because my dog has another small cyst on his eye and nose. Those, however, are tiny and seem to be more superficial.
    I am just wondering if you has any tips for how to handle his sebaceous cyst?
    I have been keeping it clean and I used antiseptic and read that antibiotics are a must, so I was jumping on that bandwagon- hopefully that’ll help. Thanks, J.

    • J, read here to understand why no doctor can tell you what the structure is for sure without a pathologist’s help. That’s why your second veterinarian is recommending surgical removal and histopathology. Keep the lesion clean, save your money, and have the surgery when you are able. Be sure to take your pet back to the veterinarian if the spot changes significantly. As you’ve read in the post, many sebaceous cysts require surgical removal once they become open, as your dog’s has. IF that’s what the mass is, surgery is curative, and neither topical nor systemic antibiotic therapy make the inflammation go away, in most cases. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  47. faithdog says:

    I have a mixed Jack Russell dog. She had a cyst like lump on her back. We took her to the local veterinarian and she said she could remove it cost $400.00. If we wanted it tested for cancer it would be another $200.00. We didn’t have the money to do both so we had it removed. In a couple of weeks another lump came up and then another and so on and so on. Now she has a lot of lumps and the veterinarian is not saying any thing. Do you know what it might be? Concerned owner.

  48. Sheri says:

    Sheri writes: My cat has a cyst just under his left ear. It started out as a lump, and has grown to be a dangling sac. I want this thing gone. The veterinarian says it’s fine to stay, and the issue is that he can’t be put under because of his heart murmur. Is the procedure different in animals than in humans? I am a technician, working for a physician who delegates small mass removals to us. Every cyst removal I have ever done on a human was performed under local anesthesia. Can that not be done with a cat? Holding him is not an issue, he is a very calm cat and I’m sure I can hold him while she injects him with the local. Thanks for any advice you can offer.

  49. Sandra says:

    But what if my dog has small ones that kind of pop up like black dots? I gently squeeze them, the contents come out and his skin heals just fine. Is that ok? It’s pretty much like popping a human zit.

  50. […] said just to bring him back in if he gets anymore, they go away quickly once drained. This article, Sebaceous Cysts In Dogs And Cats |, says surgery is required if they get infected and opens up. Hope this info helps you out! Good […]

  51. LISA says:


  52. Linda Varady says:

    My cat has sebaceous cysts and has had medical treatment involving removing the “cheesy” substance twice in the last two months. Today, while she is still healing, I found another lumpy spot. It seems she is prone to this type of cyst and I do not want to put her through the trauma of another invasive procedure. Is there anything I can apply, or administer, to her to help her combat another flare up?

    • Linda, I’ve never actually thought about a way to prevent sebaceous cysts, but two possibilities (totally untried, as far as I know) come to mind. One might be regular bathing with a shampoo with follicular flushing action. After reading that post you can read this one to learn the techniques. I’m guessing you’d need to bathe your kitty 1-3 times weekly to have any hope of prevention. Some cats actually like baths. Others will take your head off for thinking of the idea. The other possibility might be nutritional supplementation with essential fatty acids. I hope these ideas help, but I’m certainly not making any promises, and be sure to check with your pet’s doctor first, before trying either technique.

  53. Amber says:

    Hi. I have an American bulldog she has had a bump on her back right leg for about 6 months now. About 1 week ago the bump grew over night to the size of a golf ball. The next day there was something white sticking out, so we squeezed it and very thick white stuff came out. It’s been about 7 days now and the bump has gotten a little smaller but turned bright red and white goo is still coming out. It doesn’t bother her, she just licks it all the time. What should we do?

  54. Melissa says:

    My 3 year old Siberian Husky has a sebaceous cyst (diagnosed by 2 different veterinarians) it started off a pea size, about 6 months ago and grew to an inch wide, by an inch and a half tall. it burst a week ago (what a mess!). Now it is an open hole and I can see the large cyst inside of it. He goes in for surgery on Monday, and I’m wondering if he will need an Elizabethan collar (cone) (it’s on his head in the middle, just behind his ears). It is itchy as heck, and we’ve trained him not to scratch it. Does he need an E-collar? If so, how long until it can come off so he can sleep, eat, and drink? How long does it normally take until 6 stitches can come out?

  55. Audrey says:

    Hello Dr. Randolph, Thank you for your response on 10/9. I took a VERY, VERY good look at Lucy’s spot, this past weekend. Her skin is normal in color & I don’t think the hair follicles were damaged because the “spot” is actually reddish brown hair! The hair looks like what she had when she was a puppy, just a little thinner in texture. Lucy was born with “brindle” coloring, but as she’s gotten older, has lightened up quite a bit. I find it strange that her hair would grow in with that coloring, don’t you?

    • Actually, Audrey, it’s not unusual for damaged skin to produce hair that is different in color than it used to be. Sometimes the color change is permanent, sometimes temporary. Only time will tell, there are no good prognosticating factors for determining that. I’m delighted that Lucy is growing hair, it’s a very good sign. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  56. Audrey says:

    Hello, I have a 4 yr. old Shih-Tzu, Lucy. She had an oozing lump on her back, the veterinarian said that it was a sebeceous cyst. The day after I took her to the veterinarian, the cyst erupted, my daughter squeezed all the goop out and I purchased antibiotics for Lucy. That was about 3 months ago, so far no cysts have come back and the hole is healed, but there’s a REALLY darkened spot where the cyst was. My questions are: Is the black or darkened spot, a bruise from being pinched? Will it go away & will she grow hair back in that spot? Thank you for your time!

  57. We have a 14 year old poodle who keeps developing sebaceous cysts. The first noticeable was one on her head that bled until removed. She seems to have them pretty much all over, but it is worse on her tail, and whenever we remove her cone collar, she chews it and causes it to bleed. Our veterinarian says that the next step is removal of her tail, which may have severe complications. Is there any way to deal with the underlying problem of why she is getting all of these cysts and possibly avoid the risks and expense of the tail removal?

  58. Our 14 year old poodle has developed a number of sebaceous cysts. One on her head began bleeding and was removed. The most problematic one is on her tail. It has been infected a number of times and ends up a bloody mess any time we leave her cone collar off. This has now been going on for about 6 months. Our veterinarian has said that the only way to solve the problem is to remove her tail, and that he is concerned that this might create more complications. (Not to mention the cost).
    The poor dog is developing cysts pretty much everywhere. Is there any holistic approach to deal with the underlying problem causing the buildup of these cysts, like changing diet?

  59. Kim says:

    Thanks for the info Dr Randolph, she is coming along. Kiana is a big girl but she is not overweight at all. Her parents and grandparents were large. She just kept on growing and finally stopped at 150#. She is a true beauty hailing back to the M’loots of old. The Alaskan Natives know exactly what she is when they see her.

  60. Kim says:

    I have 150lb female Malamute that has been limping for about a year. After numerous trips to the Veterinarian they finally removed a large ruptured hair follicle (that’s how it was described) from between her toes on her front left leg. She has been given antibiotics and medicine for a yeast infection. I have brought up the fact that she has virtually licked off the fur from that toe and the toe still appears to be swollen on the toe pad. Is this typical of ruptured hair follicles?

    • Kim, I can’t say I’ve had experience with ruptured hair follicles, but any source of inflammation can be slow to heal and respond only to surgical removal. You don’t mention how long ago the surgery was, but with painful, invasive surgery it can take weeks to return to full, normal function. Swelling is common after surgery, but it shouldn’t last too long. If you are concerned that too much time has passed and that your dog should be further along in healing, call to schedule a followup examination so that the doctor can address any question you have and issues your dog may or may not have. You should never hesitate to call on your veterinarian in times like this: . Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.
      BTW: 150# sounds like a LOT for a female Malamute to weigh. Has your pet’s doctor recommended weight loss for her?

  61. Tabitha says:

    My poor little Walt is yet another sebaceous cyst sufferer. The one on his shoulder burst yesterday. It’s about the size of a dime. I cleaned it out with a little peroxide and the only other thing I had available to me was some triple antibiotic ointment so I put a bit on. Tonight when I got home from work around 7:30 pm he seemed a bit lethargic so I called the veterinarian and they had some scrub that they advised I wash it with twice a day until we can get it removed (he has a slight heart murmur that must be tested before they can place him under anesthesia). However, prior to even using the wash, I got home to find him a little lethargic. I’m worried that this may be some side effect of the ointment – an allergic reaction or maybe it was too open of a wound and the ointment shouldn’t have been used? Or worse, could he have ingested some? Or do you think it is more likely that an infection is brewing causing the lethargy? If he remains this way they said that I can bring him in tomorrow which I will most likely do, but I just want to set my mind at ease with regards to what may be causing it. Yesterday he’d barely let me get near it after it ruptured – especially if I was trying to clean it, which seems a normal reaction to me. However, as of a few hours ago (once the lethargy set in) he just seems very non-reactionary when I try to clean it. Thanks!

    • If Walt had a reaction to the ointment it would have been a local reaction most likely, redness and swelling around the cyst site. Ingestion of triple antibiotic ointment wouldn’t likely be a problem. If there is anything serious it should show up in the preanesthesia laboratory testing [ ]. Still, be sure to mention it to your pet’s doctor when you go in. Please keep us posted on Walt’s progress and let us know how the surgery went. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  62. Rob says:

    I took my shep in to the veterinarian today, and the veterinarian actually squeezed the sebum out of another cyst that had developed next to the original one. I told him what happened and he said not to worry and gave us a prescription for some antibiotics. He said that there would not be a terrible wound from the cyst bursting internally, but that the dog would possibly have slight pain and be lethargic for a couple days until the antibiotic works. There is a small possibility that the antibiotic will not work, but we won’t know unless the bump has not gone away within two weeks. I am very relieved to have had him seen.

  63. Rob says:

    I have a German Shepherd that is prone to cysts. Normally I can get them to go away by squeezing the cheese out of them, but today I tried to squeeze one and it seemingly ruptured internally. He isn’t showing any signs of being uncomfortable, but is there a risk of developing sepsis from this? How will I know when to take him to the veterinarian? Thanks Doctor.

    • “How will I know when to take him to the veterinarian?” Rob, you just got your chance. Notice that one of the main points I make in the article is that as long as the sebaceous cyst stays CLOSED it usually doesn’t cause any problems. By squeezing them, you open them and bacteria can invade the inside and cause an infection. However, you’ve created a different situation with the one that “seemingly ruptured internally.” Now, that area has sebum “loose” in the subcutaneous tissues, which the body will perceive as “foreign” (despite the fact that the body MADE it.) There will be an intense inflammatory response and a horrible wound. The sooner you take your Shepherd into the doctor the fewer complications there will be. Best wishes and please write back so we can all know what transpired. Dr. Randolph.

  64. rachael says:

    Hi. I have a two year old white cat. I have noticed just today that she had a small lump on her chest. It felt smooth until I looked at it. It was a bit crispy and was sticking out of her skin so I pulled it out and then noticed somthing else was there then squeezed it and a thick creamy substance came out it was quite alot coming out. Then it looked liked she had a hole or sore there.

    • Rachael, there is no way I can tell you what’s wrong with your kitty, but she certainly needs to go see your veterinarian based on “a hole or sore in there” with “a thick creamy substance came out it was quite alot coming out.” Please write back and let us know what your pet’s doctor says. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  65. Brandy says:

    I have a 6 year old Basset Hound with one of these sebaceous cysts on her back. It broke open and we got about an inch of thick gross stuff out. We took her to the veterinarian and he did some additional cleaning and it stopped oozing. It continued to be there though and grew this gross red “cyst bag” all around it. But, it didn’t seem to be oozing or anything for a long time. It also has never seemed to bother her or cause her any pain.
    Well, two weeks ago, it broke again. I cleaned it and it dried up again. Yesterday, it broke open again, and now I know we are going to have to have this thing surgically removed. She has a veterinarian appointment for Tuesday, then we will discuss surgery.
    My question is this though – my Basset does not do well under anesthesia. She has undergone anesthesia twice in her life and had a difficult time coming out of it both times. That is why I have been reluctant to do surgery on this. Can these cysts be removed by sedating her and doing a local anesthetic? If I am sitting with my Basset and holding her face, she is VERY good and lets the veterinarians do anything they want to her. So, I am just wondering if doing a local is even an option with these cysts?
    Also, my mom has a prescription of Cephalexin antibiotics that she never used on her Shar Pei (of equal weight as my Basset). Since I couldn’t get an appointment for my Basset until Tuesday late afternoon, should I start her on antibiotics using the Cephalexin that my mom has? Normally, I would never do this, but I just want to make sure we don’t get an infection before the veterinarian appointment. I am cleaning it each day and putting Neosporin on it, but was just wondering about the oral antibiotics. Thank you so much!!

    • Brandy, as I’m sure you read on the post, these things almost never get better for me with anything less than surgery. The Neosporin is not going to hurt, but I can’t recommend beginning oral antibiotics. That would be a call for your local veterinarian. In several posts, including this one ( ), I have discussed the importance of giving medication until ALL is gone, as well as the dangers of using other pets’ medications. Local anesthetics can be used for VERY small lesions that can be removed with a punch biopsy, but this one doesn’t sound like it’s anywhere near small enough for that. However, discuss it with your pet’s doctor and see what he says. Another consideration is to reduce the amount of preanesthetic medications. These are more likely to cause postoperative “coming out” difficulties than the general. I’m confident you and your Basset will both be happier once this thing is removed. To see a sebaceous cyst from the inside go to Let us know how she does during and after surgery. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  66. Michelle Smith says:

    I have a 13 yr old cat, previously healthy, no significant past or present medical history. I discovered a 5cm closed cyst on her one hindquarter. It does not affect her mobility, she is able to lie on that side, and no other changes are noted. I think it is a sebaceous cyst but wondering if I should treat it or just leave it and monitor it? It has not grown in size over the last few weeks. Thanks

  67. Jennifer says:

    Hi! I have a two year old Austrailian Shepherd/Husky mix. A couple of months ago I noticed a growth on his muzzle and we brought it to the attention of our veterinarian. They tested it and determined that it is a sebaceous cyst. Our veterinarian, of course, was pushing that we have it removed…at about $800. After talking to friends that are veterinarian techs and doing some research, I am comfortable with not having the surgery done…as long as it doesn’t become infected or burst. My questions are these: is there a size that is too big and will it be obvious if it becomes infected (I think I would be able to tell if it bursts)? I am just concerned…we adopted him in August and he has quickly become a very important part of our family and I worry about him.

    • Jennifer, here are my thoughts. There is a reason what we do is called “the art of practice,” because there is more than one way to approach various cases. Keep in mind that I haven’t seen your pet OR the cyst, so I can’t make specific recommendations. First, your pet’s doctor has made his suggestion to remove the growth based on his examination, test results and experience. That carries a LOT of weight for me. He wanted that thing off fora reason! Second, I don’t remove sebaceous cysts if they are small and intact. ANY opening to the outside, however (indicated by a hole or drainage) will predispose the lesion to infectious bacteria from the outside world, and I’ve had almost NO success getting those to heal without surgically removing them. So, infection or bursting, either one will exhibit an opening and will clearly indicate it’s time to remove it. Third, size is a HUGE factor in parts of the body where there is limited skin to close a surgical defect. The face and nose are such places, so waiting MIGHT allow the cyst to become big enough that a surgical specialist is needed to remove it anc be able to close the resulting defect. Best wishes, Dr. Randolph.

  68. Stacey says:

    My dog has a ruptured sebaceous gland (now twice) and will probably need to have it out. My veterinarian said for now to put Neosporin on it to see if that will clear it up. It doesn’t seem to bother her, but looks really awful to me. My question is: how long do I keep putting Neosporin on it? Since it is open, wouldn’t it just continue to be (for lack of a better word) “gooey”? Aren’t I supposed to let it dry up at some point? I have been cleaning out the “goo” daily-is this good or bad? Thanks!

    • Your pet’s doctor would be the best person to answer this specifically, as he has examined your pet and knows the history of the cyst. As I mentioned in the post, most of the ones that open eventually need to be surgically removed. As an educated opinion I’d say if it hasn’t responded to Neosporin in two weeks, go ahead and make arrangements for preanesthetic testing and surgery.

  69. Michele says:

    My 9 year old Shih Tzu is prone to sebaceous cysts. He had one on his shoulder for a few months. It burst and I cleaned it up with Geri stat soap. I squeezed out some whitish fluid but it was not as easily cleaned out as others that he has had were. The following week it was a bit puffy and when cleaned more whitish fluid came out. It stayed small for a few weeks then got a little bigger then disappeared. My veterinarian said that it was just a cyst but I am worried about a mast cell tumor.

    • Dear Michelle,

      You must have had a previous experience with mast cell tumor to be concerned with it. As I stated in this post ( ), it’s impossible for anyone to look at a mass and know for certain what it is. That said, your pet’s doctor must be pretty darn certain that the lesion you’re concerned about is not anything dangerous, or he would have suggested being more aggressive with diagnostics.

      Mast cell tumors, in my experience, can be one of the real tricksters of practice. I once had a patient I sent to a specialty practice to have a board-certified surgeon remove a mass, simply because it was located in an area of a leg that was going to be difficult to remove without affecting vital structures. When the pet arrived they assigned him to the Oncology service and the oncologist told me, in her followup phone call, “I knew it was a mast cell tumor as soon as I saw it.” To me, even with 28 years of practice (then) I thought it looked like a nothing mass simply located in a bad place.

      You know, of course, that you have the option for your veterinarian to perform Cytology ( ), Fine Needle Aspirate ( ), or even surgical removal of the mass if it concerns you. Of course, if general anesthesia is to be involved you will have pre-anesthesia laboratory tests performed first, followed by the procedure.

      Please write back and let us know how you proceed and what the findings are.

      Best wishes,

      Dr. Randolph

  70. Jenn says:

    My 7 year old boxer mix has a sebaceous cyst on his back. A year ago a fine needle aspiration was done to remove some fluid and to find out if was actually was a sebaceous cyst. It it about the size of a golf ball now, and I wonder if it’s putting pressure on his spine. Anything I can do at home before my next veterinarian visit to perhaps alleviate the size? I’ve heard that hot compresses work. I know it won’t completely disappear, I’d just like to have it shrink a little. Thanks.

    • Thank you for your question, Jenn. The spinal cord is protected by bone that surrounds it, so neither the cord nor the bones are affected by the size of the cyst. For a sebaceous cyst to become this size there is usually leakage of sebum into the surrounding tissues, generating an inflammatory response which causes the swelling. The only problem with hot compresses is that the lesion may open, become infected and then you have a real mess on your hands, because the doctor is then faced with removing an infected lesion. Of course, I haven’t seen your pet, but I would be inclined to want to remove the mass before it gets bigger AND your pet gets older.

  71. June says:

    My miniature schnauzer had a ruptured cyst surgically removed 6 weeks ago after antibiotics didn’t work. A biopsy was done, the cyst was benign. However, just recently, a small section of where the suture was, opened up and bled a little bit. I took him to the veterinarian and he prescribed an antibiotic ointment (Tri-Otic) for 10 days and see if it heals by then. I am a bit worried as to why the suture would open up again after 6 weeks….could it be that they didn’t remove all of the infected cyst during surgery? Thanks for your insight.

    • June, the MOST likely cause (among MANY possible causes) is that the surgery site just hasn’t finished healing when some kind of pressure or tension occurred there, maybe from playing too hard, jumping onto furniture, etc. As to removing all of the abnormal tissue the pathologist usually addresses “clear or unclear margins” in the report, so if the pathology report was good, there probably was no abnormal tissue left behind. Worst case scenario is probably a resuture or pop a surgical staple or two into the site if it fails to heal.

  72. JoAnne says:

    Hi! My 5 year old chihuahua recently developed a pea-sized bump on her leg. I took her to the veterinarian and they assumed that it was a sebaceous cyst based on the needle aspiration. Since they didn’t seem 100% positive about this, I asked them to go ahead and remove it for biopsy. The results came in today and it was in fact a sebaceous cyst. My veterinarian says that dogs that get these are prone to them and she may get one or more again in the future. My question is, if you don’t have it removed like I did this time, will it ever go away by itself? If so, how long would it usually take? Thank you for your time and the informative article.

    • Joanne, sebaceous cyst formation is pretty random. As I said in the post, the ones that aren’t infected or bleeding I leave alone. The ones that become inflamed from infection or other causes I remove. You were wise to request a pathologist’s evaluation of the mass, as we certainly can’t tell with the naked eye what masses are.

  73. Nicole says:

    Hi. My 5 year old German Shepherd has been diagnosed with cysts, she has 5 at the moment. When I first discovered them she had 3, two of which have now burst (one was a hair follicle and the other was full of a cheese-like substance). Then, a month later, I found a fourth. It’s an ordeal for my dog and me to go to the veterinarian’s as she is terrified of the veterinarian, and taking a large dog weighting 46Kg (that’s 101 pounds for us Yanks) to the veterinarian’s is no fun. I’m just wondering if there is anything I can do without a visit to the veterinarian’s(unless its serious). Is this something that she will have to live with for the rest of her life?

    • Nicole, as stated in our post on sebaceous cysts ( ), they typically do not require treatment unless they become infected. Infection usually doesn’t occur unless they rupture. Please keep in mind, however, that sebaceous cysts are not the only kind of cysts that dogs and cats get. Therefore, if she develops lesions that are large, that drain or that are itchy, you have no choice but to see your pet’s doctor. Small sebaceous cysts are not something she has to see the veterinarian for if they are uncomplicated. Also as stated in the article, complicated sebaceous cysts are best treated with surgical removal.

  74. Alice Rutter says:

    Our 13 year old Shih Tzu is prone to sebaceous cysts. We have had some removed but the veterinarian says they will only return. They start out as small bumps and fill with fluid. They can get huge and last for months. My question is are these dangerous or painful for her? I do not want to keep putting her under anesthesia at her age to have them removed if it is not necessary. She doesn’t seem to be affected by them. She leaves them alone and doesn’t chew or pick at them.

    • Sebaceous cysts that have been surgically removed cannot “return,” after they have been excised, but new ones can certainly appear. Sebaceous cysts are not painful. Typically they don’t get to be very large. Have any of the removed ones been sent for histopathology to be sure exactly what they are? IF, in fact, they are sebaceous cysts AND she is not bothered by them there is no need to remove them. HOWEVER, if they are some other type of growth the answer might change.

  75. Cathleen says:

    I have a year and a half year old dog that has what we’re thinking is a cyst on her back leg. It’s about a marble size and it’s red. It doesn’t seem to hurt her when I press on it but she licks it occasionally. We can’t get her to a veterinarian in any time soon (probably in 2 weeks) so I was just wondering if this is an emergency and needs immediate medical attention.
    Thanks for your time and insight,

    • Cathleen, there is no way for a doctor to know the answer to your question without actually seeing your pet. There are two main scenarios: 1) if it is simply a cyst or benign growth, it’s not going to hurt to wait two weeks. 2) if it is a cancerous (malignant) growth, it could spread in two weeks and be life-threatening. I would do whatever I had to do to get my pet in to see the doctor right away.

  76. Crystal says:

    My 6 month old pup has a dime size lump behind her ear. She just got it about a week ago I think, but its one size and I would have thought I would have noticed it before. It’s real red and bleeds alot when my other dog licks it to clean it?
    Just wanted to get some expert advice before we take her to the veterinarian.
    Thank you for your time

    • Crystal, this could be any one of a jillion conditions, but in a 6-month-old it’s unlikely to be life-threatening. Go ahead and call your pet’s doctor for an appointment and get it checked out. It’s not something we can diagnose over the Internet. Write back when you get a diagnosis so we can know, too.
      Thanks for reading,
      Dr. Randolph

  77. Hannah Myrberg says:

    My name is Hannah, and I have a 5 year old pitbull/ boxer. She had a large bump a while back that she had surgery on; the doctor said it was a cyst. Well four more bumps came upon her body near where the scar from her last surgery was. What should we do? They are sending her in for sugery tody, but what if it keeps occuring? No we do not know if its another cyst, but we’re pretty sure it is. Thankyou, Hannah

    • In order to answer these questions I would need a copy of the Histopathology report. If the doctor is sending the tissue he removed to a pathologist we know exactly what tissue makes up the “bumps.” If he didn’t send the tissue out either time we will have a hard preventing future “bumps” because we won’t know exactly what they are. If you can transcribe the report into an email for me, or scan it and send it as an attachment I’ll be happy to look it over.
      Best wishes,
      Dr. Randolph

  78. Susan Gibbs says:

    I have a red longhaired standard dachshund, 9 months old. He is first a pet, but he is also a show dog working toward confirmation. He is six points away. He has developed two pea sized knots that are covered with fur just above his nose on his muzzle. My question is if these bumps could affect his becoming confirmed. They started small and looked like two tiny white spots. As they became large (just over a couple of days) they weere no longer white. In fact you cannot see what they look like because they are covered with fur. They do not appear to be hurting him. I have been reading about canine acne, warts and sebaceous cysts. Do you have any suggestions? Thank you, Susan Gibbs

    • You’ve asked two questions, one medical, one not. Conformation, show-dog rules, etc., have nothing to do with medical conditions and would have to be posed to a show-dog-rule expert.
      The bumps, on the other hand, are a matter for a medical expert. Unfortunately I can’t identify them from a description, and any bump needs a good evaluation by your pet’s doctor. After all, it could be cancer or infection and we wouldn’t want to take a chance with his health, much less his future fame. Please write back and let me know what the doctor says.
      Thank you for your question,
      Dr. Randolph.


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