Skin tags often set off panic in dog owners. What exactly are these growths and how can you remove them? Read on to understand the best way to address skin tags in dogs.
You have just discovered a lump of fleshy skin
on your pet's paw – its bendy and an eye sore. Panic sets in,
because a skin tumor can be bad news.
Relax, that fleshy growth is a skin tag, a mass
of fibrous tissue and it is most probably a benign growth. Skin
tags are common in dogs, even puppies. No breed
immune. However, older dogs and larger breeds
appear predisposed to contracting skin tags.
How do you know what you've seen is
actually a skin tag? Skin tags on dogs look like skin; they are
quite easily distinguishable from warts and big ticks. They
attached to the skin by a stalk,
may comprise of one or multiple growths or have hair
Dogs may have a solitary skin tag or a number
of them on their face, torso, legs, back, armpits and other
areas. Also known as hamartomas, skin tags are mainly of
- Hairless lumps of flesh on lower limbs
- Multiple growths that appear flattened and
have hair growing out of them (follicular
Causes of skin tags in
Overactive fibroblasts, cells that promote the
production of fibers and collagen required by your pet's
connective tissues, can cause an overproduction of fibrous
tissue, giving rise
to masses on or near the skin.
Certain factors may produce a conducive
environment for skin problems in dogs, which can co-exist with
skin tags as a secondary growth or
Too much bathing, which can strip
your dog's skin of natural oils, is one of the culprits for
dryness and chafing. An
that has a mild effect yet gets
job done is a safer bet than
products that can make your dog's skin unnecessarily dry.
is also essential to keep your
pet's immune system
optimally, minimizing the risk of
cracks, rashes and skin
Now to the big question – how do you address
the issue of skin tags in your pet?
Dog skin tag
The first thing you want to do is have your vet
take a look at the skin tags. Your vet may either ask you to
monitor the tags for growth or recommend a biopsy. A
will reveal if the growth is benign or
malignant, and enable you to plan next steps without
If the skin tags are growing quickly or have
turned dark, or if your pet seems to have lost his/her appetite,
gets tired easily or frequently vomits or has loose bowels,
medical opinion at the earliest.
1. Surgical removal
Skin tags on dogs can get smaller
over time. If they persist, you can have them surgically removed.
Some pet owners may choose to opt out, especially if the skin
have been deemed harmless. Vets may
recommend surgery if the tags are causing a secondary infection
or if your pet can't stop chewing on them. Torn tags can
and give rise to infection – in
particular, tags near the tail are prone to bruising. When the
tags appear close to your pet's eye or mouth, interfering with
activities of daily
living, it is best to have them
The surgical procedure is often a quick one,
performed with local anesthesia and sedation. Total anesthesia
may be used for fidgety pets.
Though there are anesthesia protocols for all
dogs, some breeds require extra caution. To minimize risk, your
vet may recommend an outpatient procedure
cryosurgery that uses nitrous oxide or liquid
nitrogen to freeze out and destroy unwanted tissue, which then
dissolves or falls out within a few weeks. Your pet may
a slight pain during the freezing process, but
it goes away as quickly as it comes, and recovery is entirely
painless. Depending upon the severity of the skin tags,
procedure may be repeated within 2-3 weeks if
the first treatment is not adequate.
After skin tags have been removed, make sure
that your pet does not scratch or chew at the area. One option is
to use an Elizabethan collar. In any case, monitor
changes, if any. Skin tags may appear on other
areas and when determined to be harmless, you can let them be.
They may shrink on their own, and if they're not
your pet any problem, medical intervention is
Note: Avoid a do-it-yourself (DIY) dog skin tag
removal at home. Even though the procedure may seem simple
enough, there is always a risk that you may
inadvertently injure your pet or cause him/her
a lot of pain during the procedure. In a worst case scenario, a
flawed procedure can lead to infection and create
2. Holistic prevention
If your dog is maturing or is genetically
predisposed to skin tags, there isn't much you can do to prevent
the onset of these fleshy masses. A few small harmless ones
your pet isn't bothered by shouldn't bother you
either! However, you should keep a tab on your pet's skin
condition and invest in the right skin care products.
holistic measures that are in the best
interests of your furry buddy include:
Ensuring that you don't use expired
Avoiding harsh bathing and/or grooming
Minimizing chemical exposure in your
surroundings – pesticides, insecticides, lawn chemicals and
If bites from fleas, ticks and other
parasites are frequent and getting problematic, address them
quickly or prevent unnecessary skin
Feeding your pet with nutritious food,
ideally something that keeps his/her immune system in good
shape and promotes healthy digestion.
Once you spot skin tags on your pet, get a
quick diagnosis to take informed action. It will alleviate stress
and help you return your pet to good health.
How to keep your dog’s skin
You probably take great care of your skin and use a myriad of
products. Well, it should be no different for your pupper. In
fact, there are a variety of skin disorders that affect dogs and
skin conditions can be painful, not to mention very expensive to
Keeping your dog's skin healthy is a year-round endeavor and
requires a consistent skin-care routine. After all, that soft
clean coat you run your fingers is going to need some love to
stay that way year round.
Here are a few tips for keeping your dog’s skin healthy:
Don’t give your dog a bath
Just like humans, dogs have natural protective oils in their
skin. If you wash your dog too often this is stripped away and
results in itchy and dry skin. In such cases, your
dog can end up scratching themselves more often and creating open
wounds which can then get infected.
Additionally, drier damaged skin means your dog will start to
compensate with more natural oils which can heighten the too
familiar dog odor.
Not pleasant for you!
Bathing too often is a problem and if you absolutely need to keep
your dog clean, try alternatives such as dry shampoo or puppy wet
wipes in between bathing sessions.
Use the right bathing
Supplementing the above is making sure when you do give your dog
a bath, you’re using the right bathing products.
If your dog has dry skin, shampoo and soap that has ingredients
such as shea butter or other moisturizing ingredients are
You can also use conditioning spray when you brush your dog to
keep his/her fur healthy and skin clean.
The skin pH balance for dogs is different from that of humans so
never use human products on your pupper.
Monitor your dog's
Keeping an eye on your dog's diet can also greatly influence
their skin health. For example, dog foods that are grain heavy
and high in carbs can contribute towards drying out your dog's
Raw diets have been known to be much more suitable and healthy
for dogs. They are usually high in moisture and provide the
essential nutrients and minerals to keep skin healthy and soft.
You can also buy vet-approved supplements, such as Bixbi Skin & Coat to
add to your pet's diet.
Supplements are your dog’s
best friend (after you!)
Along with a healthy diet, supplements is the next trick up your
sleeve and have been proven to keep skin healthy, moist, and
reduce causes for itching and fur loss. Some great supplements to
stock up on are Omega 3 Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, and Salmon Oil.
All of these help support a healthy skin and coat, reduce
flakiness, helps keep skin inflammation down and minimizes
chances of an allergic reaction occurring.
You can also mix certain oils with your existing dog’s diet or
feed them to your dog directly such as coconut oil, flaxseed oil,
and hemp oil. All of which help promote healthy and moisturized
A brush a day keeps the
Whether your dog has short or long coats, brushing is essential.
If your dog has a short coat, they may not need it every day but
with frequent brushing you can remove any loose fur, debris and
massage your dog’s skin promoting natural oil secretions. If your
dog is double coated, brushing regularly can also prevent matting
which leads to hot spots and skin irritations.
Puppers need sun protection
Too much time out in the sun is also not great for your dog’s
skin. The paler your dog is means they are also less protected
naturally by the UV rays of the sun and could get sunburned.
As with humans, limiting exposure to the sun paired with a pet
safe sunblock is necessary, and if your dog is short-haired, a
reflective jacket to help protect and keep your dog cool is a
Keeping an eye on if your dog is getting sunburned is key in any
case when out in the sun regardless of preparation. If you see
signs of sunburn it’s best to consult a vet immediately.
Finally, the best way to keep a pulse on your dog’s health is
frequent check-ups with your nearby vet. Your vet can also
recommend specific dietary changes and skin regime adjustments to
ensure your dog’s health remains great.
By following these steps you can set your pupper on the path to
great skin health, and prevent any future skin disorders. As
always, if you have any concerns about your dog’s skin health,
please consult a vet immediately.