Skin tags on dogs may be unsightly but they’re usually benign and don’t pose a problem for dogs. Dog owners might mistake skin tags for other skin conditions so let’s set your mind at ease.
Skin Tags On Dogs
Skin tags on dogs are small, distinct growths that commonly appear on a dog’s skin. Skin tags are composed of excess skin tissue and are often attached to the skin by a thin stalk or peduncle.
They are non-cancerous and generally harmless and painless … but they can cause discomfort if irritated or injured. Once a skin tag has developed, it remains unless it is removed. While a skin tag may fall off naturally, it doesn’t happen often.
What Does A Skin Tag Look Like On A Dog?
- Small and fleshy: A typical skin tag on a dog may appear as small, soft and fleshy growth above the skin’s surface, and can vary in size. It can look like a tiny flap or tag-like structure.
- Attached to a thin stalk: Skin tags on dogs are typically attached to the skin by a thin stalk or peduncle. This stalk connects the tag to the skin’s surface and can be seen when examining the growth closely.
- Pigmented or darker: Skin tags can range in color from a pale color to slightly darker, pigmented or a pink skin tag on dog. Depending on the dog’s pigmentation, the skin tag may appear brown, black or a darker shade than the surrounding skin.
- Smooth or wrinkled: A skin tag on a dog can be smooth like a small bump, or have a slightly wrinkled or folded appearance.
- Single or multiple: Dogs can develop a single skin tag or have multiple skin tags on different parts of the body.
- Red skin tag on dog: This may be a sign of inflammation from being rubbed, scratched or injured that can cause increased blood flow to the area. It might also be a sign of infection. And some skin tags may have a richer blood supply, resulting in a reddish appearance. You might see this in larger skin tags.
- Black skin tag on dog: This might be from increased pigmentation and isn’t usually a cause for concern. It can also be from bleeding or bruising from being scratched or injured. In rare cases, a black skin tag could indicate tissue necrosis (death) from reduced blood flow or underlying health conditions and might need medical attention. It’s rare, but it could be melanoma, a type of skin cancer, so you might want to have it checked to be sure.
Skin tags on dogs are often mistaken for:
- Warts, which are often small and flesh-colored. Warts are often caused by a viral infection and may have a rougher texture or a cauliflower-like appearance.
- Tumors such as lipomas or sebaceous adenomas can look like a large skin tag on dog, as they have a similar appearance … but they’re soft, non-painful, and slow-growing.
- A tick or skin tag on a dog may look the same. You’ll often find ticks on the nose, neck or ears.
- Skin cysts can resemble skin tags when they are small and soft. However, cysts usually contain fluid or semi-solid material, while skin tags are composed of excess skin tissue.
Where To Find Skin Tags On Dogs
Skin tags on dogs are often found on the neck, underarms, groin, belly, back, legs, eyelids and in skin folds. These fleshy growths can develop wherever there is friction or rubbing, such as where collars or harnesses are worn.
Skin tags on dogs are generally harmless but any sudden or unusual changes in size, color, or texture should be checked by your holistic veterinarian.
Skin tag on dog eyelid or skin tags on dog’s mouth aren’t usually a problem unless they interfere with normal eye function or make it difficult for your dog to eat or drink. A skin tag is slow growing but if it does increase in size and block your dog’s vision you may want to have it looked at. If it causes irritation it can cause your dog to scratch and rub it and that could damage his eye.
What Causes Skin Tags On Dogs?
There isn’t an exact cause but a skin tag growing on dog might be a result of a few things.
One common cause is friction or constant rubbing in specific areas such as where collars, harnesses, or skin folds create continuous irritation.
Hormonal imbalances related to age or underlying medical conditions may cause skin tags on dogs. Fluctuations in hormone levels might also be a reason.
Obesity has a correlation to skin tags in dogs. Excess weight can lead to skin folds, increased friction and irritation and lead to skin tags.
Note: Studies in people show there’s a link between skin tags and diabetes or impaired carbohydrate metabolism. While this link isn’t discussed in dogs, it’s always worth keeping an eye on your dog’s blood glucose. If your dog has diabetes, skin tags may go away when blood glucose levels are stabilized.
Genetics might be a reason as certain dog breeds are more prone to developing skin tags due to skin fold formations or increased susceptibility to skin irritation.
Breeds that seem to have a higher incidence of skin tags include:
- Cocker Spaniel
- Labrador Retriever
- Bulldog (English Bulldog, French Bulldog, etc.)
- Bichon Frise
- Shar Pei
How To Remove Skin Tags On Dogs
It’s not a good idea to try to use these veterinary methods to remove skin tag on dog yourself at home. It can cause pain, infection or other complications like bleeding. Unless they’re causing a problem for your dog, skin tags are best left alone … or try some of the natural remedies suggested below
Here are 4 methods a veterinarian may use to remove skin tags on dogs:
- Surgical removal: This involves numbing the area with a local anesthetic and cutting off the skin tag. It may require stitches.
- Cauterization: The skin tag is burned off, which seals the blood vessels and minimizes bleeding.
- Cryosurgery: This involves freezing the skin tag using liquid nitrogen which causes it to fall off. It’s used for smaller skin tags and may require several treatments.
- Ligation: The skin tag is tied off at the base to cut off its blood supply. This causes the skin tag to eventually wither and fall off.
Cancerous Skin Tag On Dog
Skin tags on dogs are typically benign and non-cancerous. They are generally harmless growths and don’t affect your dog’s health. But there is a possibility of other types of skin growths that can be cancerous.
These are things you will notice:
- Rapid growth over a short period of time
- Changes in color such as darkening or irregular color patterns
- Irregular shapes or borders or jagged edges instead of a smooth and defined shape can be a sign of cancer
- Bleeding or ulceration or skin tags that frequently bleed, ooze, or develop open sores
- Persistent irritation or discomfort including itching, pain, or tenderness
These signs aren’t conclusive evidence of cancer but you might want to visit your holistic vet for an evaluation.
4 Natural Remedies To Treat Skin Tags On Dogs
You don’t want to try and remove a skin tag on your dog but there are some things you can do at home that might reduce the size and eliminate discomfort. A skin tag can become inflamed so here are some natural ways to minimize inflammation:
- Cold Compress: A cold compress on the inflamed skin tag can reduce swelling and provide temporary relief. Wrap a clean, ice-filled towel or a cold pack in a cloth and gently apply it to the affected area for a few minutes at a time.
- Chamomile Tea: Brew a strong chamomile tea, allow it to cool, and use a clean cloth or cotton ball to dab the cooled tea to the inflamed skin tag. Chamomile has natural anti-inflammatory properties and can soothe the area.
- Witch Hazel: Witch hazel is a natural astringent that can help reduce inflammation. Dilute witch hazel with water, apply it to a cotton ball, and gently dab it on the inflamed skin tag.
- Coconut Oil: Apply a small amount of organic, cold-pressed coconut oil to the inflamed skin tag. Coconut oil has anti-inflammatory properties and may help soothe the area.
And here are things you can do that might help reduce, or at the very least, prevent skin tags from forming on your dog.
4 Natural Methods To Reduce Skin Tags On Dogs
Natural methods may not completely eliminate skin tags on dogs, but here are some things you can do:
- Feed A Healthy Diet: A fresh, whole food, raw diet goes a long way to maintaining healthy body weight and supporting good skin health. Obesity can increase the likelihood of skin tags in dogs, and in humans there’s a link between skin tags and diabetes or poor carbohydrate metabolism. Feeding a starch-free diet may help reduce skin tags.
- Groom Regularly: Keep your dog’s skin clean and well-maintained with regular brushing. Brushing, especially in areas prone to friction or rubbing, can maintain good blood circulation in the skin and minimize skin tag development.
- Use Aloe Vera: Applying a small amount of pure aloe vera gel to the skin tags may help soothe irritation and reduce inflammation.
- Apply Vitamin E: topical vitamin E oil on skin tags might help reduce inflammation.
Skin tags may not be pretty, but they really aren’t a problem for your dog.