Pekingese and Shih Tzu health problems of lumps on the skin can be alarming to find when you're petting your pooch. Fortunately, cysts on either breed are usually — but not always — noncancerous. They don't necessarily require removal, but should always be checked and monitored by your veterinarian.
Recognizing a cyst
Both Pekingese and Shih Tzu dogs require a lot of grooming, so take advantage of this opportune time to check your dog's skin for abnormal lumps or bumps. You may notice things like lumps and bumps that their hair normally covers up, or you may reveal tender spots on their anatomy that you wouldn't be able to see.
A cyst is a sac that is filled with fluid, air, or other matter such as dead skin cells or keratin according to VCA Hospitals. Cysts are usually not cancerous. By contrast, a tumor is not a sac but an abnormal mass of tissue or swelling that could be cancerous or not.
Both cysts and tumors can affect any part of the body, including the internal organs according to the Mayo Clinic. Pekingese are most susceptible to interdigital cysts between the toes while Shih Tzus tend toward sebaceous cysts on the skin.
Take it to the vet
Your veterinarian has the equipment to determine whether those bumps on a Shih Tzu back or Pekinese toes are a cause for concern. Ultrasound is commonly used to determine whether a cyst is uniform throughout — a sign that it's not cancerous according to Mayo Clinic — or has solid areas that would be cause for concern. If the cyst is uniform throughout and it's not bothering your pet, your vet might recommend keeping an eye on it for the time being.
Return for visits to have it checked for size to ensure it's not getting larger. A biopsy of a cyst is the best way to determine whether it's cancerous or not. Your vet may aspirate the cyst with a needle or make a small incision to remove a chunk. If the lump is bothersome, she might also just remove the entire thing and send it for biopsy.
Understand the causes
Sebaceous cysts on Shih Tzu skin are usually due to blocked hair follicles, causing sebum — your dog's lubricating skin oil — to collect, block, and swell the follicle. Damage to the hair follicle from pressure points from a harness, lying down, etc. can also cause the blockage.
Inflammation in the feet can cause interdigital cysts in the follicles located between your dog's toes according to Veterinary Partner. Pekingese are especially prone to these because of their wide paws, which splay out and put weight on the haired skin between the toe pads.
Preventing cysts in dogs
Groom your dog carefully so you don't inadvertently tear a cyst or other skin lump. Take note of any abnormal skin conditions and consult with your vet. Observe your dog for signs of interdigital cysts. The first symptoms often include limping, chewing on a front paw, or frequent licking.
Look between the toe pads for a red lump and feel beneath the hair for any bumpiness. Besides cysts and tumors, there are other causes of skin lumps such as warts, insect bites or stings, allergic reactions to drugs or injections, dermatitis, or canine acne.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
- Mayo Clinic: Tumor vs. Cyst: What's the Difference?
- Veterinary Partner: Interdigital Cysts in Dogs
- VCA Hospitals: Cysts
- PetEducation.com: Causes of Solid-Appearing Lumps & Bumps on the Skin of Dogs
- PetEducation.com: Causes of Fluid-Filled Bumps on the Skin of Dogs
- The Pekingese Club of America
- The American Shih Tzu Club