Removing a Skin Tag From a Dog
Skin Tags on Dogs—Our Story
When our dog Brutus was 11 years old, we noticed a skin tag growing between his front legs. We visited the vets and were told that it wasn't harmful, but to keep an eye on it. Two years later, the skin tag had grown into a 4 inch (10cm) dangling droplet of floppy skin that was truly unsightly.
I started to notice whilst out walking with him that perfect strangers would stop and stare at him, and children would laugh. Brutus didn't much care either way—if it got him an extra scratch behind the ear, he was a happy boy. I, on the other hand started to find it embarrassing, I felt like these people were judging me wondering why on Earth had I not gotten that thing removed?
I checked the tag every day for bleeding. However, it always felt cold to the touch, leading me to believe that there couldn't be much blood flowing into it. You can see in the picture below how large the skin tag was prior to taking him to the vet (you can see it just behind his left armpit laying on the carpet.)
Tying Off a Skin Tag From a Dog
I was worried that he might catch it whilst snuffling around in the garden, thus creating a bigger problem than we already had so I took him to the vet, who exclaimed: "oh yes, it is a large skin tag isn't it?" Er. Duh.
He explained to me that it could be removed through surgery, but as Brutus was older in his years, he thought that it would be best to try to tie it off! Tying off is a process that entailed the vet first tying some sort of thin line (like a fishing line) around the top of the tag close to his chest. He'd tie it as tightly as he could to stop the blood flow. It would smart a bit, so I had to hold Brutus head, so he didn't take a chunk out of the vet.
So, I held onto Brutus, gently talking to him whilst he tried to take sidelong glances at the vet trying to see what he was up to. The vet (let's call him Bruce) told me to brace Brutus' head as he pulled the line tight. Brutus let out a whimper and thrashed around a little, but within about 30 seconds he seemed to have forgotten it had happened.
What Happens After Your Dog's Skin Tag Has Been Tied Off:
Bruce explained to me the following things:
- Within a few days, the blood within the tag would start to dry up. This is because the flow had been cut off and over the course of about a week it would then would shrivel up, turn black, and fall off.
- Initially, the tag could swell up so it would be a good idea to put Brutus in a t-shirt to keep the tag close to his chest so that he didn't try to catch or scratch it with his back paws.
So as you can see from the next two photos, I willingly gave up my superman t-shirt for him to wear. Personally, I think it looks better on Brutus than it ever did on me!
After Skin Tag Removal, Putting Your Dog in a T-Shirt is Recommended
After a Dog's Skin Tag Has Been Tied Off
What happened, then? Well, we then waited with anticipation for it to start swelling up.
Holy goodness, did it swell up. It was massive! Within a couple of days, it was about the size of a tennis ball and the skin was very stretched around it. It was starting to emit wetness quite badly, leading us to change the t-shirt twice a day. My husband would hold the ginormous tag so it didn't pull and I would switch the t-shirts over.
Brutus seemed completely unaware of what was happening to him—it did not affect his eating, drinking, or going for daily walks (yes, while wearing the t-shirt. He became part of the elite group, that is, wearer of doggy fashion. And yes it was commented on more than once!)
If the Tie Around Your Dog's Skin Tag Wasn't Tied Off Tightly Enough
After another four or five days, the tag was showing no signs of shriveling up. It was still the same size and still weeping profusely, so it was time to visit Bruce again.
I could tell from his face that it wasn't meant to look like that, he explained to me that it wasn't tied off tightly enough, and a small amount of blood was still getting through into the tag and keeping it alive. Time to tie it off again.
Brutus let out a little yelp when this happened. I think the skin near his chest must have been quite sore at this point. However, again after about 30 seconds, he seemed unaware of it.
Luckily, Brutus is a very laid back, relaxed dog. If he weren't, he may have reacted very differently to this treatment and all the t-shirt changing. Afterwards, we went home and continued with the t-shirt changing and the daily tag checks (2x). Amazingly, within about three days, it was black and flattened by Brutus laying on it.
A day or two later, whist vacuuming the living room carpet, I found the deposited skin tag on the floor. I checked Brutus' chest and there was hardly any sign at all that it had ever been there.
Bruce admitted to me when we went back for Brutus' check-up that he had never tied off a skin tag so big before but was pleased with the results, although he did tell me that there was a good chance that it might grow back again. Brutus is now almost 16 years old and has never grown another skin tag, thank goodness!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2009 Skye