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Friday, September 24, 2010

Sebaceous Cysts


Okay; this is a heads up and warning of the following GROSS talk blog.  If you have not had breakfast yet or you have a queasy stomach then best to not read this one or leave it for later in the day.  Sebaceous cysts; a volcano like bump that is commonly found on dogs.  It seems that no breed or mix is predisposed to these little annoying lumps so any dog is fair game.  I don't remember the first time I saw one but it was on Tilley; she has now had them for years and it is has become a common attack strategy when we see one.  First we take note; lump, next we wait and we wait and we wait until it decides to erupt and erupt it does, usually.  They open up much like a volcano and release the contents which can vary from gray goo, maybe a little blood to tiny little dark gray pearls.  The tiny beads beads are common and have been inside almost all of Tilley's and by tiny I mean like large sized grains of sand but there are a lot of them with accompanying goo.

So what are Sebaceous cysts and what should you do about them?  All dogs have oil glands in their skin; these are what produce the oil for their hair, which contain a substance called Sebum.  When a hair follicle becomes blocked for some reason then the natural flow of oils cannot be expelled.  This causes a backup so to speak and a lump can form; it can grow to a good size before it opens up, if it opens up.  Tilley has had them when they simply dried up and went away but typically they have come to a head and opened.  This is when great care must be taken to keep them clean; infection can set in fast and make matters far worse.

I've taken care of dozens of them; yes they are extremely gross but fairly easy to fix so to speak.  If they open up; you use hot compresses, a cloth with warm water.    As warm as your pup can stand and put it on top; let it sit and then gently squeeze.  It may not seem like there is an end to the goo but there is; believe me.  When you start to see blood; which may be a few days you are nearing the end.  I like to keep neosporine all around the opening but not covering the opening.  Best to keep a dry bandage on it if you can; this stops licking.  Perhaps sit out in the sun with your pooch to let it dry without a bandage for a bit each day.

The hair may or may not grow back on the spot where the cysts formed; I've had it grow and not grow back.  Problems can arise with a cyst if they do not come to a head and continue to grow .  If they become red and warm to the touch; best to head to the vet.  They are often removed surgically; but only if they become a problem.

So there you have it; gross but very normal.