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.
Reading: Sebaceous cyst dog treatment at home
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.
Five 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.
- Warm Compresses
- Castor Oil
- Coconut Oil
- 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!
Also Read: How much to feed puppy
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 two minutes and then patting it dry.
- Do this three times a day for about three days, then twice daily for another three 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 ten times, three times a day, for one week.
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 two 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.
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-3s and Omega-6s (found in fish and sunflower oil—you can mix this into dog food).
Also Read: Why does my puppy keep biting me
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.
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!
firstname.lastname@example.org 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
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 months…it 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.
Also Read: What animals are considered predators
Also read: Can vacuum leak cause misfire