If you’re reading this, you probably have a dog that appears to have grown a skin tag. Getting worried is quite normal, but skin tags do not necessarily mean bad things. They are actually natural to dogs, especially as they age.

So, What are Skin Tags on Dogs?

When petting your dog, you might stumble across a pink, fleshy lump hanging from your dog’s skin and furs. It is soft, smooth to the touch and appears quite inoffensive as your dog does not manifest himself as you touch that piece of skin.

As alarming as it might look to the owner, skin tags do not offer any serious threat to the health of your dog, at least most of the time. There are plenty of scenarios on how they might appear, why, and what they can cause later on. Don’t be scared for your dog, as we will cover everything you need to know.

The Canine Skin Tags

Skin tags on dogs are pieces of skin that have grown outside of their natural fur development area and can be touched and even grabbed as they protrude from the body. Skin tags on dogs are usually very small, a few millimeters long only and are soft to the touch.

The skin tags have a more technical name to veterinarians: They are called achrochordons or fibropapillomas.

As common as skin tags can be, they can cause complications on your dog’s well-being, but that is extremely rare. Most of the time, it is just a growth of flesh that is hanging and you dog rarely feels sensitive to the touch.

Skin tags do not spread nor are they contagious. They are not a disease, it is a natural phenomenon of the overgrown of tissue and that comes when dogs are aging or aren’t feeding well. Genetics also have a direct relationship with the probabilities of your dog developing these skin tags.

If you remove a skin tag, it won’t spread or cause an increase in growth rate, contrary to popular belief. There is no direct impact on the growth of future skin tags and the removal of existing ones.

Another thing to note is that, by the time you spotted a skin tag in your dog, it probably has already stopped growing. These pieces of flesh don’t grow too much and will stop growing in a few days from the first time it appears.

Some dog species have more chances to develop these skin tags than others. The Cocker Spaniels, for example, have the tendency to develop these flesh protrusions because of their racial genetics. That doesn’t mean that the skin tags on dogs will cause any harm or should be overlooked.

Skin tags on pugs tend to scare owners a lot because, as pugs do not have very long fur, skin tags tend to be much easier to find on them.

On the other hand, skin tags on boxers, Great Danes or Labradors can be harder to find, especially because of their genetics, long fur, their growth rate and their energetic nature, larger breeds are often harder for their owners to spot these skin growths.

Skin tags in dogs mouth can also occur, as well as close to their eyelids. These are not any different than tags appearing in other parts of the body, however especially those that grown on their eyelids can be irritating and cause your dog to scratch it. If you notice such thing, as your veterinarian if he thinks it should be removed, but don’t do it on your own as it is an extremely sensitive area.

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What Causes a Skin Tag to Grow?

It isn’t exactly clear to scientists what causes a skin tag to start growing in your dog’s skin, but there are a couple correlations that specialists noticed between the dog’s diet, the products the owner uses for taking care of his skin or fur, the action of parasites as well as bacteria and viruses.

Exterior causes:

Bacteria, viruses, germs, fleas, ticks and lice all appear to have an indirect relationship with the growth of these little pieces of skin. Why?

When talking about infections and parasites, the common reaction of a dog is to scratch the area. The scratching can cause inflammation and that makes the skin more susceptible to bacteria.

Bacteria and viruses will harm your dog’s health and seem to cause more skin tags to appear, especially if your dog is not having baths regularly. A dirty environment is enough for a dog to start growing health issues, so keeping your house clean is always better for the overall health of your dog, even if we are not talking about skin tags on dogs anymore.

The accumulation of molds in your house are as harmful as the accumulation of germs and bacteria. Chemicals that are harmful to insects like pesticides also shouldn’t be used next to your dog since they are harmful to humans as well, imagine dogs.

Nutrition:

Your dog’s daily diet can also affect the growth of skin tags according to specialists.

Because your dog needs a specific amount of nutrients to develop the full capacity of its breed, when your dog is faced with an Improper diet or a diet that is not meant to the size of that breed, they can face weakening in their immunity system.

This issue can later cause your dog to be more susceptible to skin anomalies, allergies, rashes and skin tags.

Knowing your dog’s weight and height, the specifics of its breed and the amount of nutrition it needs to consume per day to develop and stay healthy is advisable to prevent not only skin tags but further health issues.

Genetics:

Not really something that is controllable, but genetics do have a role in the development of skin tags by your dog, as well as most of all the other skin growth problems a dog can develop.

As unavoidable as it is, you can at least expect your dog to have skin tags in the future based on his or her family.

The good news is, even if you can’t interfere in the inheritance of skin tags by your dog, keeping it clean and free from parasites, mold and viruses, giving the dog its necessary nutrients and keeping his health in check is enough to combat extreme growth of skin tags on dogs.

What are the Differences Between Skin Tags and Canine Skin Cancer?

While skin tags are simply protrusions of flesh from your dog’s skin, the canine skin cancer is a type of tumor that is extremely common among dogs.

As scary as they may sound, they are easily curable if found early by the owner. They are quite different in appearance from a simple skin tag and don’t seem to have any correlation between them, but it isn’t always easy to differentiate them, especially if you’re not familiar with how they look like.

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Although skin tags on dogs are often not painful or sensitive, skin diseases such as tumors can make your dog feel pain when touching it as well as cause inflamed areas and the development of sore skin. These tumors can also cause liquid secretion.

Signs of skin cancer are skin areas with spots colored in brown, gray, black or red. They tend to occur in the mouth, lips and even your dog’s pawns, and look like lesions. Can be painful as well as get infections and may cause your dog to limp if they are on your dog’s feet.

I know, these descriptions do not help much, and it gets even more complicated when there are two more types of skin cancer, one that comes from tumors that look like warts (usually on the abdomen) and a rubber-like skin development.

This brings us to the next point:

Check the Vets Every Once and a While

If we haven’t proven enough on our previous topic, skin diseases are difficult to spot and shouldn’t be easy for you either just because you understand your companion very well. It is better to take your dog to a veterinarian at least once every six months to check his or her health and see if the specialist spots any harmful development on their skin.

What You Can Do as an Owner?

Checking your dog’s skin, exploring the skin behind all of that fur is a good practice and can help veterinarians spot something harmful that they didn’t see before.

Keeping an eye on your dog’s food consumption, feces, their well-being as well as the loss of fur can also be important when going to the vets. All intel is welcome and can make the difference.

Removing Skin Tags on Dogs

For both procedures to come, it is important to attach a cone-shaped collar in your dog to prevent them from biting the wound.

If you decide that that skin tag should be removed from your dog’s skin, there are a couple of preparation steps you have to make before proceeding and a few information you need to know.

  • You can remove the skin tag yourself, but it is a piece of flesh and it will cause bleeding and pain in your dog.
  • Open skin is susceptible to bacteria and infection so it is important to use sterile tools and clean the area constantly.
  • Don’t try to remove it if it is in a sensitive area, especially the eyelid, lips, nose or ear. If you have never done something like this, the removal can go wrong and it can cause severe injury in your dog. Ask a veterinarian to do this in that case.
  • If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or feel like you might screw up, let the veterinarian do it. It is better to have a professional take care of it, after all, it is the removal of a piece of flesh. Signs of shaking hands, nervousness in your dog’s behavior or uncertainty are signs that you are not prepared to do this.

Important:

Ask someone to help you with this procedure as you can’t do this alone. Your dog will feel a bit of pain so having a partner that your dog trusts holding him or her is a plus.

  • First of all, clean the area around that skin tag. Remove the fur around the skin tag and clean it with an antibacterial product.
  • Disinfecting the area is extremely important because you can turn a rather harmless skin growth into a serious infection if you leave that injury open.
  • Using isopropyl alcohol to clean the area as well as the mentioned antibacterial is enough.
  • Ask the person to hold the dog and see if they are still calm. If the dog starts getting nervous, it is better not to proceed as it can start moving nervously and you can make a mistake when trying to remove the skin tag.
  • If he is calm and steady, grab sterile scissors to start the procedure.
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Important:

Your dog WILL feel pain. This is the closes to what a veterinarian would do, however there won’t be any anesthetic effects to calm down your dog. He might get aggressive so get ready for it and warn your partner about it.

It is advised to use curved mayo scissors for this. It is extremely important to sterilize them.

Now you’re ready to cut it. Be quick and cut it right in the base to remove the entire skin tag.

Right after the removal, grab a clean cotton to clean the wound with either a bit of alcohol or clean water and seal it with a bandage. Apply a bit of pressing above the wound to ensure the bleeding is contained.

After the Procedure

Keep an eye on that wound for the days to come after the removal of the skin tag. Your dog will want to scratch it, remove the bandage or bite the skin, so you or someone you trust have to keep an eye on the dog the entire time.

It is better to take your dog to the veterinarian right after you make this procedure and then a few days later.

They will check for infections, clean it properly, check if your dog is developing fever and give hints on how to control your dog’s discomfort.

Tying Off Skin Tags on Dogs

This procedure is for skin tags on dogs that are already a little longer than the usual and Is hanging from your dog’s skin.

When tying the skin tag, that piece of skin will eventually fall off in a few days due to the lack of blood flowing to that area. You’ll notice that it will start shrinking and getting smaller before it falls off completely.

You’ll shave the area and clean it with alcohol as the last method, but you won’t cut the skin tag off.

Instead, grab a dental floss, string or thread to tie that piece of skin. It is important to tie it very tight and as close to the base as possible to prevent blood flow.

Your dog will feel discomfort and pain in the first minutes of the procedure. Keep calming the dog down and your partner has to hold them otherwise they might scratch that area.

After ten or fifteen minutes, your dog will have calmed down. Attach the cone-shaped collar to prevent him from biting the skin tag and soon that thing will fall off.

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Conclusion

Skin tags are not dangerous but they are definitely unhealthy. This is enough reason that you should be concerned about them; and the fact that they are not difficult to get rid of, I do not see any reason why you should not treat your dog’s skin tags.

If you’re interested in reading similar articles, here’s good one on Best Dog Coats. We’ve also posted a good guide Best Vitamins for Dogs.