Skin Tags on Dogs

Skin tags on dogs are noncancerous growths that may need to be removed if they cause your dog any discomfort. Skin tags in dogs are often confused with canine skin cancer, but they're normally quite harmless. Here's what you should know about canine skin tags and when you should have them removed.

What Canine Skin Tags Are

Canine skin tags are small skin growths that look like warts. They're often mistaken for canine skin cancer, but in fact they're benign (noncancerous). Vets don't know why dogs develop skin tags, but they think factors like genetics or allergic sensitivities may play a role in the development of skin tags in dogs.

Identifying Skin Tags on Your Dog

Dog skin tags look a lot like warts. They can grow anywhere on your dog's body. If you find one skin tag on your dog, there's a good chance he has more on other parts of his body. 

Unlike warts, which are thick at the base and solidly rooted to your dog's skin, skin tags are thin and floppy at the base. The entire skin tag may have a flattened appearance, or it may be slightly rounded and have a tear drop shape. Skin tags tend to dangle from the skin and, unlike warts, you can move skin tags back and forth with your fingers. Skin tags are the same color as your dog's skin.

Finding Skin Tags on Your Dog

Groom your dog each day. Take care to examine the skin of his entire body carefully for lumps, bumps and growths. If you find any lumps or growths on your dog, consult your veterinarian to make sure the growths are benign.

Most canine skin tags don't require any treatment. They can be left alone as long as they aren't bothering your dog.

When to Remove Canine Skin Tags

Skin tags are usually harmless and, in most cases, don't require removal. However, sometimes skin tags can become irritated or damaged. This can happen if your dog scratches the skin tag, if the skin tag catches on something, or if the skin tag somehow gets pinched or crushed; larger skin tags are more vulnerable to damage than smaller ones. Injured or irritated skin tags should be removed; your vet can perform this procedure quickly and painlessly on an outpatient basis.

If skin tags appear around your dog's mouth or on his lips, they may be cancerous, or they may become cancerous. Consult your vet if your dog develops skin tags around the mouth or on his lips, and monitor them carefully for any changes in appearance, size or shape.

In rare cases, canine skin tags become cancerous. If your dog has skin tags, check them frequently for any changes in size, shape or appearance. If you notice any changes in the size, shape or appearance of any of your dog's skin tags, consult your vet. The tag may have become cancerous and will need to be removed.