Follicular cysts, also known as sebaceous cysts, are common benign growths that can develop on the skin of dogs. These cysts are usually filled with a thick, oily substance called sebum, which is produced by the sebaceous glands in the skin.

Follicular cysts can occur anywhere on a dog’s body, but they are most commonly found on the ears, face, and legs. In this article, we will discuss the causes, symptoms, and treatment options for dog follicular cysts.


Follicular cysts in dogs are caused by the blockage of a hair follicle or sebaceous gland. This blockage can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Trauma: Trauma to the skin, such as a cut or abrasion, can cause the hair follicle or sebaceous gland to become damaged and blocked.
  • Bacterial or fungal infections: Bacteria and fungus can infect the hair follicle or sebaceous gland and cause blockages.
  • Genetic factors: Some breeds of dogs, such as Chinese Shar Peis, Labrador Retrievers, and Golden Retrievers, are predisposed to developing follicular cysts.


Follicular cysts are usually small, round, and firm to the touch. They can range in size from a pea to a golf ball and may be singular or multiple. The cyst may be painless or mildly painful, but they can cause significant discomfort if they get big enough or ruptured. The cyst may also be red, swollen, and warm to the touch if they are inflamed.


If your dog is showing signs of a follicular cyst, your vet will perform a physical examination of the affected area. This may include taking a sample of the fluid from the cyst for examination under a microscope. This can help to confirm the diagnosis and rule out other possible conditions, such as a skin tumor.


The treatment for a follicular cyst will depend on the size, location, and severity of the cyst. The most common treatment options include:

  • Observation: If the cyst is small and not causing any discomfort, your vet may recommend simply observing the cyst and monitoring it for changes.
  • Surgical excision: If the cyst is causing discomfort or is located in an area that is prone to infection, your vet may recommend surgically removing the cyst. This is done under general anesthesia, and the cyst is removed along with a small margin of surrounding tissue.
  • Drainage: If the cyst is large and causing discomfort, your vet may recommend draining the cyst. This is done by making a small incision in the cyst and removing the contents.
  • Antibiotics: If the cyst is infected, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to clear up the infection.


Follicular cysts can’t be prevented entirely, but you can help to reduce your dog’s risk of developing them by:

  • Keeping your dog’s skin and paws clean and moisturized to prevent dryness, which can cause skin irritation and infection.
  • Taking care of any injuries to your dog’s skin promptly to prevent infection.
  • Keeping an eye out for any changes in your dog’s skin, such as lumps or bumps, and reporting them to your vet right away.

Recovery and Aftercare

After surgery, the recovery time for dogs can vary depending on the size and location of the cyst. The incision site will need to be kept clean and dry, and your vet may recommend keeping an Elizabethan collar on your dog to prevent them from licking or biting at the incision. Your vet will also provide you with instructions for caring for the incision at home and schedule a follow-up visit to check the healing process and remove any stitches.

It’s essential to follow your vet’s instructions for aftercare to ensure that the incision site heals properly and to prevent infection. You should also keep an eye out for any signs of complications, such as bleeding, redness, or discharge from the incision site. If you notice any of these signs, contact your vet right away.

In some cases, the cyst may return after surgical excision. This is more likely to happen if the cyst was not entirely removed or if the underlying cause of the cyst, such as a genetic predisposition, is not addressed. If the cyst returns, your vet may recommend repeating the surgical excision or trying a different treatment option.


The costs associated with treating a dog’s follicular cyst can vary depending on the size and location of the cyst, the type of treatment chosen, and the veterinarian. The surgical excision of a cyst will likely be the most expensive option, and the costs can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the complexity of the surgery and the location of the cyst. Drainage or Antibiotic treatment will be less expensive.

It’s essential to keep in mind that the costs of treating a cyst will not only include the surgery itself but also any necessary aftercare, such as antibiotics or pain medication. Additionally, if the cyst requires multiple treatments or recurs, the costs can add up over time.

Preventing infection

It’s crucial to take preventative measures to reduce the risk of infection in dogs with follicular cysts. This includes keeping the cyst clean and dry and avoiding touching or squeezing the cyst. If the cyst becomes red, swollen, or warm to the touch, it may be infected and should be checked by a veterinarian.

To avoid infection, your dog’s hygiene is also important. Regular grooming and bathing will help to keep the skin clean and moisturized, and prevent dryness, which can cause skin irritation and infection.


The prognosis for dogs with follicular cysts is generally good, especially if the cyst is small and not causing any discomfort. In most cases, surgical excision of the cyst will result in a complete cure, and the dog will have no further problems with the cyst.

However, in some cases, the cyst may return after surgical excision, particularly if the underlying cause of the cyst is not addressed. Additionally, dogs with multiple cysts or recurrent cysts may have a poorer prognosis and may require ongoing treatment.

It’s essential to keep in mind that even benign cysts can become cancerous in certain cases, although it’s very rare. Therefore, it’s essential to have any cyst that has not resolved on its own checked by a veterinarian.

In conclusion, Follicular cysts, also known as sebaceous cysts, are a common condition in dogs, and they can be caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, bacterial or fungal infections, and genetic factors. They can be treated with surgical excision, Drainage, or antibiotics and are usually benign.

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