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Ask Dr. Michael Salkin Your Own Question
Dr. Michael Salkin
Dr. Michael Salkin, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 30383
Experience:  University of California at Davis graduate veterinarian with 45 years of experience
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I have a 2 year old white german shepherd and about

Customer Question

Hello! I have a 2 year old white german shepherd and about halfway down his tail i noticed a firm bulb, pink color start to form. I tried to do some research and was pretty sure that it was a supracaudal gland, stud tail type issue. I kept it clean and dry to avoid any infection. It has been a week or so now and it has gotten bigger, still causing Niko absolutely no pain. Today I let him out of his kennel and he must have wagged his tail and hit something, and now the gland has an open spot that started bleeding. I have a friend who is a vet tech, sent her a picture and she said to just continue to keep it clean with some triple antibiotic ointment. Im just very concerned if it needs to be drained, or if antibiotics are a necessity. I dont want it to get any worse than it is now, especially with an open gland for risk of infection. Help!
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Aloha! You're speaking to Dr. Michael Salkin
A swelling "halfway down the tail" may not represent hyperplasia of the tail gland which is found just 2.5 - 5 cm distal to the tail head. Can you upload a photo of this "bulb" to our conversation? You can use the paperclip icon in the toolbar above your message box (not if you're using the chrome browser) or you can use an external app such as or I can be more accurate for you if I can see what you're seeing.
In general, affected skin over these glands may be scaly, greasy, and hyperpigmented. Pustules from secondary bacterial infection may be seen. In dogs with primary or secondary seborrhea, other skin lesions are present. Tail gland hyperplasia is a seborrheic condition (a disorder of keratinization/maturation of the skin). We don't expect bleeding.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
It is firm but not rock hard, definitely feels like tissue and no fluid came out from it other than the bleeding. But like I said, no pain whatsoever. He's just trying to lick the ointment. It was pink, now after him wagging it on something it is more red. There seems to be more hair loss on it as well.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Thank you! Yes, he really has that area inflamed. It's quite far from where that tail gland exists, however. It's an unusual and rather large skin lesion that I can't get a good look at from here. I would shave the hair around it to evaluate the true extent of it, medicate it with an antiinflammatory/antibiotic cream such as Panalog or Otomax and then wrap it so he couldn't continue to excoriate it.
It has the appearance of a "hot spot" - a pyotraumatic dermatitis or perhaps quite a large histiocytoma - a benign neoplasm of young dogs that eventually goes away by itself but it can up to 12 weeks to do so. It would be best to have his vet take a look at it. If necessary, it can be needle aspirated and the aspirate examined microscopically in order to clarify its etiology.
Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Well I have a pretty interesting update. I did some research on the histiocytoma, looks exactly like what niko has. Took your advice, put some antibiotic ointment on it, have him something to calm him down before bed. I wrapped it up with some gauze bandage to keep him from getting at it. This morning I woke up to a bloody histiocytoma that is about half the size. I was unsure if he was nibbling at it but there is no evidence of blood on his face. I deep cleaned it with hibiclens, applied some antiobiotic ointment and re wrapped it. He's now coned up to prevent any more damage. Any idea what happened? I'm pretty confused with this entire experience.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
A histiocytoma will often respond to a corticosteroid ointment such as over the counter hydrocortisone applied thrice daily. Antibiotics shouldn't affect it unless a secondary bacterial infection existed (uncommon). I never argue with success, however.
Histiocytomas are benign neoplasms consisting of mononuclear cells derived from epithelial Langerhans' cells - wonderful cocktail talk...they reach a certain size and then crumble away within 6-12 weeks. Observation without treatment is reasonable but if it doesn't remiss, surgical excision or cryotherapy is curative. Please continue our conversation if you wish.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Crumble away? I'm just not sure at at what to expect in this healing process. Is it okay that it was bleeding? Also when I begin to do a course of tid hydrocortisone should I also apply to the open areas or only to the intact areas, and is it okay that I continue to keep it covered. I'm using a drainage gauze dressing with the antibiotic ointment and wrapping it ace bandage style so it's more stable on his tail with another gauze dressing.
Expert:  Dr. Michael Salkin replied 2 years ago.
Yes, the mass becomes friable and tissue crumbles away. You might just see it become smaller rather than falling apart like a sandstone mountainside, however! Yes, you can apply hydrocortisone liberally - to open and intact areas. I expect that there will be less and less open areas once you keep it covered and Niko leaves it alone. It sounds like you're doing a nice job wrapping it. You can alternate an antibiotic and hydrocortisone ointment in order to avoid secondary infection arising - if it isn't already present.