Just like humans, dogs can get skin tags too. Unlike in humans, skin tags could be hidden by fur in dogs.
Read ahead to learn about spotting dog skin tags, removal, and treatment, among other useful information:
- What are Skin Tags (on Dogs)?
- What Causes Dog Skin Tags?
- Are Skin Tags Harmful to Dogs?
- How to Spot a Skin Tag on Your Pet
- Removing Dog Skin Tags
- How NOT to Treat Dog Skin Tags
- Differentiating between a Skin Tag and a Cancerous Lump
What are Skin Tags (on Dogs)?
Skin tags are small but distinguishable growths that appear on the outer layer of a dog’s skin.
In humans, skin tags appear with age. Similarly, older dogs are more prone to this condition. However, it’s not uncommon for an adult dog of any age to develop skin tags.
Skin tags can vary in size or shape in canines. Some are small, appearing like mosquito bites or grains of rice that don’t go away.
In some cases, skin tags can be large, about the size of raisins or grapes. In any case, skin tags take the shape of smallish bumps.
Dogs can get skin tags on most parts of the body. These can commonly appear on the torso, eyelids, nose, legs, armpits, and stomach. Areas where the skin is soft is the most vulnerable to skin tags.
What Causes Dog Skin Tags?
Veterinarians have not yet identified why dogs get skin tags.
In humans, certain medical conditions like diabetes and hormonal imbalances could lead to skin tags. The same hasn’t been scientifically confirmed in dogs.
However, it’s possible that an underlying medical condition could result in skin tags.
Vets do identify certain risk factors that can lead to skin tags. Here’s a list:
You should regularly bathe and groom your dog. Otherwise, dust, debris, and parasites may cling to its fur. These can irritate the skin and make it more vulnerable to tags.
If your dog lives in an unclean, dusty or dirt packed area, it may be prone to skin tags. Unclean rooms and floors promote germs or mold to accumulate. Bacteria, fungi, and viruses may trigger skin tags in dogs.
Most of us use harsh cleaning agents on floors and furniture. Household cleaning agents often leave a residue. These can get on your dog’s skin when it lies down. Like germs, these harsh chemicals can trigger a bodily response that results in skin tags.
Skincare Products with Irritants
Like household cleaners, dog skincare products could contain harsh chemicals that trigger skin tags. Ingredients like perfume or dyes can irritate your dog’s sensitive skin areas.
Dogs are vulnerable to a number of parasitic infections caused by fleas, ticks, or mites. The parasites don’t cause skin tags. The resulting scratching and biting do.
If your dog’s collar is too tight, it might cause skin tags in the affected area. Likewise, if you like to dress up your dog in tight-fitting clothes, it might result in more skin tags.
Poor nutrition causes an array of health issues in dogs, especially on the skin. Skin growths like tags can result from your dog not getting adequate amounts of calories, vitamins, or micronutrients.
Skin tags can be hereditary or at least be a result of your dog’s unique genetic condition. If your dog has a parent with skin tags, then it would be more likely to get skin tags as well.
Are Skin Tags Harmful to Dogs?
Skin tags on dogs are benign. They do not cause harm to a dog. However, skin tags in sensitive body parts, or tags that grow too large, could cause discomfort to your dog.
Skin tags that grow on eyelids can cause them to droop. This could be uncomfortable for dogs and might even affect their vision.
Similarly, skin tags in the mouth area can cause a great amount of discomfort in dogs. They may affect the dog’s bite and ability to eat.
Skin tags don’t typically grow large in dogs. But if they grow a few inches in size, they will appear unsightly. The appearance of large skin tags often bothers dog owners more than dogs.
Skin tags do not typically frustrate dogs unless they develop on the eyelids or close to the mouth. Owners should not worry about skin tags spreading or being contagious.
Skin tags on dogs are mostly aesthetically displeasing. Otherwise, they are harmless.
How to Spot a Skin Tag on Your Pet
Sometimes, canine skin tags can be difficult to spot because of fur. Some owners may not even realise that their dog has skin tags.
Skin tags on exposed areas, like your dog’s face, are easy to spot with a visual examination. You will be able to see a wart-like growth.
You can identify a skin tag by touch too. When you pet your dog, notice if your hands run over small bumps. If they do, part the fur in the area to inspect for skin tags.
When you groom your dog, pay attention to the skin under their fur to spot tags. You can notice skin tags easily when bathing your dog.
Removing Dog Skin Tags
Dog skin tags are harmless, but some owners may want to have them removed. Skin tags that appear on the eyelids or near the mouth should be removed if they cause the dog great discomfort.
Some skin tags could get cut or damaged by accident. If the cut doesn’t heal, the skin tag may become infected. In such a case, the skin tag must be removed to protect the dog from a serious health risk.
There are several ways to remove a dog skin tag. The method used largely depends on the size of the tag.
Small or moderate skin tags could be removed in the following methods:
Cutting with Scissors
Your vet will clean the skin tag and cut it with sterilized surgical scissors with a curved blade. The removal will cause a very small wound that would heal on its own.
Tying the Tag
This method is used on protruding skin tags. It can be done by a vet or the owner.
This method uses a thread or dental floss to tie the skin tag tightly. Doing so shouldn’t cause discomfort to the dog.
The skin tag should remain tied for several days. During that time, blood flow would be restricted to the growth, and the skin tag would naturally subside.
If the skin tag is large, a vet may use any of the following methods to remove it:
The vet would use a source of heat to safely burn the skin tag off your dog’s body. It will be painful, so the dog would receive a local anesthetic. The burned spot should heal completely within days.
The opposite of cauterization, the vet would use a source of extreme heat to destroy the skin tag.
Vets surgically remove skin tags that are too large to be cut or cauterized without causing a large wound.
Skin tag removal is a relatively risk-free procedure. However, you should always consult a vet to determine which method is the best way to remove a dog skin tag.
Dog owners should note that skin tag removal is not recommended for some dogs. If your dog suffers from a health condition like diabetes, your vet will advise against removing the skin tag.
How NOT to Treat Dog Skin Tags
Because dog skin tags are common, there are various “home remedies” that you might hear about from other dog owners. Some of these rumored remedies can be rather dangerous to your dog.
Here are the things you should never do to remove a skin tag from a dog:
Using Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is useful for removing warts in humans. It’s pretty much ineffective against skin tags in dogs. In some dogs, the vinegar may cause skin irritation. Therefore, don’t use vinegar of any kind on your dog’s skin tag.
Cutting with a Scissor at Home
Cutting off skin tags should always be done with a sterilized pair of scissors. Also, the scissors should be sharp and curved—adequate for cutting skin. Never use regular scissors to remove a dog skin tag. Ideally, you should seek vet care to cut off a skin tag to minimize the risk of infection.
Don’t ever try to burn off the skin tag with a lighter or match. It would only harm your dog. Take your pet to a proper vet to have the skin tag medically cauterized.
Applying Liquid Nitrogen
Cryosurgery does use liquid nitrogen. However, you should never use this substance on your dog at home. Liquid nitrogen can cause serious side effects. Vets only recommend cryosurgery as a last resort. Therefore, never try at-home cryosurgery on your dog or any other pet.
To keep the risk of injury and side effects to an absolute minimum, always take your dog to a veterinary clinic for skin tag removal. Don’t try at-home methods you read about online.
Differentiating between a Skin Tag and a Cancerous Lump
Dog skin tags are benign and don’t have any negative effects on your pet’s overall health. But, some owners may mistake a harmful, cancerous growth on the skin for a harmless skin tag.
A cancerous lump or bump can appear as a common skin tag. To differentiate between the two, be aware of the following symptoms:
- The skin tag keeps growing in size
- It changes color or texture
- Your dog keeps biting or scratching it
- Redness, swelling, or abscess on the skin tag or the nearby area
- It causes your dog pain
- There are lesions or discharges from the skin tag
If what appears as a skin tag has any of the above symptoms, your dog may have a harmful growth on their skin, rather than a tag.
In some cases, skin tags could be mistaken for lipomas.
A lipoma is a fatty deposit under the skin and is not a cancerous growth. Like skin tags, lipomas are largely harmless but should be looked at by a vet.
A vet may recommend a biopsy to ensure if a skin tag is indeed what you think it is. As these harmless growths can often be confused with other conditions, you should seek confirmation from a veterinarian.