Canine Epidermal Hyperplasia

by Betty Lewis
Beagles are one of the breeds commonly affected by sebaceous hyperplasia.

Beagles are one of the breeds commonly affected by sebaceous hyperplasia.

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Hyperplasia refers to heightened cell production in a normal organ or tissue. If your pup has epidermal hyperplasia, it means he has some growths, specifically sebaceous gland growths. Lumps and bumps on a dog's skin aren't uncommon as he ages, and sebaceous gland tumors are among the most common tumors in dogs.

Hyperplasia or a Cyst?

Sebaceous glands are attached to Duke's hair follicles, keeping his skin and hair lubricated. If his glands get plugged up, perhaps with sweat or dead skin cells, your dog may develop a sebaceous cyst. Sebaceous cysts often rupture on their own and go through their own healing process, never to present themselves again. Occasionally a cyst will become chronically infected and need to be removed. A sebaceous gland tumor is different; it's excess tissue growth. Sebaceous hyperplasia is the most common sebaceous gland tumor in dogs and is benign.

Sebaceous Hyperplasia

Though it sounds serious, hyperplasia isn't a bad or dangerous thing. These little wart-like growths often show up on a dog's feet, trunk and head, including on his eyelids. They're small -- usually less than 0.4 inches in diameter -- and often have a narrow base and pink color. You may see one or several growths on Duke, and though they are harmless, they may itch, causing him to scratch. Excessive scratching can cause the growths to become inflamed or infected.

Confirming Hyperplasia

Tumors and warts can be confused, and the only way to confirm the difference is through microscopic examination. If you come across a growth on Duke, have the vet take a look. The vet may take a tissue sample for examination by a veterinary pathologist to confirm it's benign. Once the vet has determined the growth is non-cancerous, treatment is optional unless the hyperplasia is infected or inflamed. If your dog's tumor is infected, treatment is simple surgery to remove the growth. Once removed, the tumor will not reappear in the same spot, though Duke may have growths elsewhere.

Sebaceous Carcinoma

Malignancy in sebaceous gland tumors is rare, occurring in about 2 percent of sebaceous gland tumors. As with inflamed or infected hyperplasia, the malignant sebaceous tumor -- or sebaceous carcinoma -- can be successfully treated by surgical removal. According to VCA Animal Hospitals, metastasis in this sort of cancer is very rare.

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About the Author

Betty Lewis is a writer and editor specializing in pet care, animals, careers and emergency management. She previously ran an animal shelter, where she also served as a kennel attendant and dog trainer. Lewis holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, an M.B.A. and a master's degree in professional studies.

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