Causes of Dermoid Cysts
Dermoid cysts are typically congenital (present at birth) and have a strong suspected hereditary component. They are fairly common in domestic dogs and rare in domestic cats. Dermoid cysts are considered to be developmental in origin, meaning that they develop in utero while the puppy’s cells, tissues and organs are being formed. The underlying cause is thought to be the failure of complete separation of the neural tube from the epidermis during embryogenesis. The neural tube is the precursor of the central nervous system in the developing embryo. The epidermis is the outermost, non-vascular layer of the skin. Embryogenesis is the developmental process of embryo formation inside of the uterus.
Prevention of Dermoid Cysts
Because dermoid cysts are developmental in origin, there is no real way to prevent them. Given that certain breeds are predisposed to developing dermoid cysts, there probably is a strong genetic component to them. If the goal is to prevent these masses, affected dogs probably should not be used as part of a breeding program.
Dermoid cysts usually are not associated with spinal cord abnormalities in dogs, despite their location and their probable development from cells that ultimately become part of the animal’s central nervous system.