Unsightly, but rarely painful, cysts are hollow spaces that develop in a pet's tissues and contain a membrane that produces secretions of skin oil or other natural body substances. Noncancerous cysts can be caused by the blockage of a hair follicle, sun damage, steroid treatments or a genetic predisposition. A veterinary professional can diagnose suspected cysts, and recommend a course of treatment for affected cats and dogs.
When pet owners suspect that their cat or dog has a cyst, their neighborhood veterinary professional may want to take a closer look. The vet will require a tissue sample obtained by a biopsy or complete lumpectomy. The tissue then will be examined under a microscope by a veterinary pathologist for the most accurate diagnosis possible, according to the VCA Animal Hospital website. The pathologist will determine the cause of the cyst and whether or not all of the tissue was removed. Close examination also helps determine the cyst's prognosis and if a threat of cancer is present.
Though cysts can be treated topically, they usually recur unless surgically removed, according to John A. Bukowski, DVM, for the website Web Vet. Pets requiring anesthesia for surgery may be subjected to blood and urine tests that screen for anemia and kidney issues, as these make anesthesia risky. Following the administration of general anesthesia, the entire cyst is removed, as well as some surrounding tissue. This ensures that the entire cyst has been excised. Antibiotics may be prescribed to fight any secondary infections that may occur following the cyst's removal.
Veterinarians may prefer to use lasers for the expedient removal of noncancerous cysts for many reasons. Lasers are able to remove unhealthy tissue without damaging the surrounding tissue, according to the Elyria Animal Hospital website. The laser seals the skin closed as it removes potentially harmful bacteria from the animal's wound. Because the laser seals nerve endings, the companion animal experiences less pain, swelling and bleeding than in procedures without the use of lasers. No sutures are needed and the pet can return to her daily activities rapidly.
Veterinarians may prescribe topical ointments for certain types of cysts, such as interdigital cysts that occur between a pet's toes. Ointments that treat this condition include Resortin and Animax, corticosteroids that reduce inflammation and edema. Dogs may be genetically predisposed toward interdigital cysts due to the conformation of the foot, according to Loewchens Australia, and the cysts may recur or develop into interdigital furunculosis, inflamed nodules that are caused by bacteria and inappropriate amounts of antibiotic. Dogs with this condition may benefit from warm foot soaks with an antibiotic solution. Some veterinarians may recommend mupiricin ointment and antibiotic bandages to reduce inflammation.
- VCA Animal Hospitals: Cysts
- Web Vet: Cysts in Dogs and Cats
- US National Library of Medicine: An Overview of Dentigerous Cysts in Dogs and Cats
- Vet Surgery Central: Bone Cysts in Dogs
- Veterinary Practice News: CO2 Laser Surgery
- Lowchens Australia: Interdigital Cysts
- Elyria Animal Hospital: Laser Surgery
- American Animal Care: Lumpectomy at American Animal Hospital
- Daily Med: Veterinary Medicine Labels: Animax
- Drugs: Resortin
- Dean Golja/Digital Vision/Getty Images