What are Skin Tags on Dogs and do I need to be Concerned?
Skin tags are growths that are usually found on dogs as they age. They can appear quite suddenly, seemingly overnight, which understandably can cause concern for pet owners. Of course, the main concern is skin cancer, which is something that immediately springs to mind when people see a growth on their dog.
Identifying Skin Tags
Most importantly – skin tags are benign growths. They can be alone or found in clusters. Common areas are the head, face, chest, legs (especially the “pit” area) and belly.
Warts vs. Skin Tags
Often, people will mistake a skin tag for a wart. Warts have a thick, solid base that is rooted in your dog’s skin. You cannot move it with your fingers. A skin tag will have a small, thin attachment that is floppy at the base. The tag itself will be loose and flat, though some are slightly rounded and tear-dropped in shape. You will be able to move the skin back and forth with your finger easily and they are the same color as your dog’s normal skin.
People sometimes make the mistake of thinking a tick that is embedded in their dog’s fur as a skin tag. If you have been out where there are ticks, be sure to part the fur and look for legs moving or a mouth at the point of skin contact so you do not accidently leave a tick on your dog.
Finally, as mentioned, people often think of cancerous growths. Cancerous growths usually have a harder lump that is not moveable and will be discolored. However, if you are at all concerned, it’s a safe bet to have the tag checked out by your vet.
What Causes Skin Tags to Develop on Dogs?
The most common “cause” of skin tags is simply aging – people get them and so do dogs as they age. However, skin tags can also be caused by a few other things, including:
· Parasite bites (including fleas, lice, ticks, etc.)
· Improper nutrition
· Chemical exposure (including lawn chemicals)
· Improper grooming (dirt build-up can cause skin tags)
· Genetics (if the dog’s parent had them, chances are the puppy will develop them as well)
Do I Need to Have Them Removed?
If you are positive the growth is a skin tag and not a wart or possible cancerous growth, then you really do not need to have them removed. Normal skin tags do not cause any discomfort to your dog.
Once in a while, dogs develop larger than normal skin tags that may irritate them or cause discomfort. Those should be removed by a veterinarian. Skin tags that have become irritated, damaged (such as getting caught on something or scratched), pinched or crushed may also need to be removed.
If the skin tag on your dog changes in size, shape, color, etc., it’s time to see the vet as the tag may be cancerous and need swift removal.
So as long as you are sure the growth on your dog is a skin tag and it doesn’t seem to be bothering him, there is no reason to be concerned or get it removed. If you do decide to have them removed, the procedure is simple. If you don’t remove them, just remember to check them out every once in a while to make sure nothing has changed that may affect your dog’s health and well-being.