Skin tags are tiny, soft skin growths that can appear anywhere on a dog’s body. Also called fibropapillomas, fibrin tags, dog warts, skin polyp, and achrochordons, skin tags are fleshy growths on the skin that are about a few millimeters in length.
Some growths are round while others are flat and stalk-like. Other growths are small and look like grains of rice, while the bigger ones can grow to the size of a piece of grape.
Dogs, of any breed or age, may develop these skin tags. It is most common in older dogs, as well as specific breeds, such as Cocker Spaniels, due to their genetic component. It usually grows in the chest, face, armpits and legs, more often in areas where the skin is soft and thin. It can even grow on the eyelids and mouth area, which can be irritating for dogs, especially if it affects their eating or vision.
Skin tags that grow on a dog’s eyelids grow much faster in comparison to other parts of the body. This can be irritating, as it can cause the dog’s eyes to droop or partially close. However, unless the dog is bothered, it may be a good idea to leave it alone. Skin tag removal on the eyelids can be sensitive so it is best done by the veterinarian.
Generally, most owners will just leave it alone, especially if the growth is just small and doesn’t really affect their pet. However, some skin tags can grow a few inches in size, which is unsightly and irritating. In such cases owners opt to have it removed with the help of a vet, while some do it on their own.
Skin tags are generally not painful to dogs. It can be likened to humans having common warts. Most dog owners mistake it as some form of cancer or tumor, especially if the growth is a little bit larger than usual. However, unless the tags are inflamed or infected, there is no need to worry. Just try to observe if your dog is scratching the area or showing signs of discomfort.
If you want to make sure that the growth on your dog’s skin is non-cancerous or benign, you should have it examined by your veterinarian.
Skin tags are harmless! A dog will develop several skin tags over their lifetime. They look like warts but usually do not change in size, appearance, or color. If the bump on your dog does change, consult a veterinarian immediately.
Skin tags are not warts. Unlike warts, skin tags are not attached to the skin by a thin stalk and do not grow back once removed. It may look and feel like warts, but skin tags are a bit softer and you can touch and move it with your finger without your dog feeling any pain. When seeking treatment or removal of skin tags, know that while they seem similar, the treatment approach is different from warts.
Skin tags are not contagious. It does not pass on from one animal to another, and to humans. You are safe to touch it of you want to examine it, unless it is infected and oozing with pus. If you notice that several of your dogs seem to have it, it does not necessarily mean that they have infected each other. It may be an environmental factor, so check their dog houses or sleeping area to figure out if there is something there that may be causing them to grow skin tags.
Skin tags do not spread once removed. It is a common misconception that once you remove a skin tag, it will only grow more. Remember that new ones may develop, but an old tag, which has been removed, does not cause new ones to grow.
Skin tags may look different on every dog so there may be times when you seem unsure. It is important to trust your gut when it comes to your dog’s health. If you have any doubts, a trip to the veterinarian can ease your worries. You can request for a biopsy to ensure that the growth is not malignant.