There are many kinds of canine skin bumps, growths, lumps, tumors, and “tags”. Some skin tumors in dogs are benign (noncancerous) and some skin lumps are cancerous. A dog skin tag is a type of skin growth that can occur anywhere on the body but are common on the face, head, neck, elbows, and/or chest. Skin tags are common in humans and also commonly occur on the face, head, face and upper chest. Dog owners frequently have questions about dog skin tags wondering if they are cancerous, a problem that can turn cancerous, or no problem at all.
Below we will discuss what is a dog skin tag, how to determine if it is a dog skin tag vs wart, how to tell a skin tag from a cancer bump in dogs, and steps for dog skin tag removal.
Before deciding if a skin tag is a problem or not, let’s look at exactly what is a dog skin tag.
The medical terms for a skin tag is an acrochordon or acrochorda (pleural) and is also known as fibroepithelial polyp. A skin tag is a small flap of skin with a small base often about the size of a grain of rice but can be bigger or smaller. Some dog skin tags can be the size of a grape or even larger and appear to “dangle”.
Dog skin tags most often occur around the face, head, neck, armpits, elbows, and eyelids, but can occur anywhere on the body. Some deep chested large dogs will get clusters of skin tags over the chest area.
A true skin tag is generally painless and harmless. They generally do not change over time into something cancerous.
They are often diagnosed when combing or brushing your dog. They are easier to see on dogs with dark hair coats as they are often pink, fleshy, and protrude brightly. It is common for some pet owners to mistake a skin tag for an attached tick. Collars, leashes or grooming procedures such as combing or brushing your dog, can irritate dog skin tags.
Why Do Dogs Get Skin Tags?
You may be wondering…“Why do dogs get skin tags”? The cause for skin tags is largely unknown although but is considered to be genetic. There are some breed predispositions such as they are more common in bulldogs, boxers, and Great Danes although they can occur in any breed. Dog skin tags appear to be more common in dogs as they get older. Dogs that get skin tags will often have more than one.
Dog skin tags are most commonly diagnosed by your veterinarian after examining the growth. The classic appearance of a dog skin tag is a small raised soft piece of skin with a small base often referred to as a pedicle. It should not be ulcerated, inflamed or bleeding unless it is being irritated by a collar or by grooming.
Skin tags in dogs are not dangerous. Dog skin tags are generally permanent and do not regress. Generally, the only way they go away is by surgical removal.
If your dog has a skin tag and it is red, inflamed, draining, pigmented, then please see your veterinarian. Either the skin tag it is infected or not an actual skin tag and a different type of tumor or cancer.
Dog Skin Tag vs. Warts — What’s the Difference?
Is it a dog skin tag vs wart? This is a common question that dog owners ask. Dog skin tags can appear similar to warts but there are differences. Warts, like skin tags, can grow anywhere on the body and dogs that get one will generally get more.
The biggest difference between a skin tag and a wart is the appearance of the bump. Skin tags generally are small, soft, thin, flesh-colored, floppy, and have a stalk or pedicle base. You can generally move a skin tag back and forth with your finger. Warts, on the other hand, are thicker and attached to the skin over a broader area. They are generally flatter. Warts, known by the medical term as viral papillomas, are benign, non-cancerous tumors caused by a virus in dogs and other pets. Warts are more common in young dogs and often are around the mouth commissures of the lip or are in the mouth. Learn more about Canine Viral Papillomas (Dog Warts).
Another common question pet owners ask about dog skin tag is “How do you prevent dog skin tags?” The answer is that there is nothing you can do to prevent dog skin tags.