How to Remove and Prevent Skin Tags on Dogs
Have you looked at your dog lately and noticed some unusual skin growths on his body? Don't be alarmed. Most of these growths are probably skin tags. Skin tags are tiny, soft skin growths that can appear anywhere on a dog's body.
- They 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 skin cancer. Finding a bump on your dog's skin does not mean they have skin cancer. Tags are benign, painless, and unlike cancerous tumors, do not secrete liquid discharge.
- 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.
What Causes Skin Tags?
Veterinarians don't know exactly what causes dogs to develop these wart-like bumps, but have identified some factors that contribute to their growth.
- Environment A dirty environment may contain bacteria, viruses, and parasites which can adversely affect your dog’s health. Also, harmful chemicals present in the home may seep into your dogs skin. Maintaining a clean and healthy environment is very important for a dog's health.
- Parasites Mites, fleas, ticks, and lice are just some of the pests that can annoy a dog. When one of these tiny creatures attaches to a dog's skin, the dog scratches. The area may become infected, possibly leaving the skin more susceptible to problems like skin tags.
- Skin care products Use caution when applying any skin care product to your dog. Make sure they are hypoallergenic and free of perfumes and dyes. Using harsh products on a dog may leave their skin irritated and dry, possibly leading to unusual skin growths.
- Genetic makeup As with all living things, genetics play a huge role in a dog’s well-being. Skin tags may just be a by-product of a dog's genetic composition.
- Poor nutrition Dogs need proper daily nutrition to live a healthy life. Skin anomalies can be a reflection of poor internal health.
Removing Them Yourself
Watch your dog for signs of discomfort. It's possible for a harmless bump to become sore if scratched. It could even become infected.
If you're considering removing the bump yourself, there are a few different methods to try. Read this over before making a decision. It may turn out that taking your dog to the vet is the best choice. Consult your dog's veterinarian about your plan to make sure that your dog will not be hurt by the process you wish to use. Your dog's safety and wellness should be your primary concern.
Cutting With Sterile Scissors
This method is crude, but it can work well on small tags. Curved scissors (sometimes used for manicuring nails) are ideal.
- Sterilize your scissors in a mixture of hot water and povidine-iodine. This will prevent bacteria from entering the dog's skin once the tag is removed.
- Clean the area around the bump and clip any fur away.
- When cutting, make sure to begin at the base to ensure full removal of the skin tag.
- After removal, it is important to stop bleeding and bandage the wound. Place an antiseptic solution or antibiotic cream on the wound. Place two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch on wound. This serves as a coagulant to stop the blood flow. Bleeding should cease within a few minutes.
Reapply antiseptic or antibiotic cream when the bleeding has stopped.
If possible, wrap a cloth bandage around the area or secure gauze with bandage tape.
Monitor the wound for several days after bleeding has stopped. If the area is not healing or if your dog is uncomfortable, make an appointment to see a veterinarian.
necessary to cauterize the newly-cut area for two seconds. Make sure to do this for two to three times to stop bleeding and make sure that the tag does not grow back. Finally, cover the area with a gauze or bandage.
Tying the Tag
This method takes longer and can cause your dog discomfort. Take care to be sure your dog does not bite or lick the tied tag, as this can cause infection.
- Disinfect the area and then shave or clip away fur.
- To tie the skin tag, use dental floss, thread, or string. Make sure to make a knot as close to the base of the skin as possible. Tighten as tight as you can.
- Use a muzzle mask or cone-shaped collar to prevent your dog from licking or biting the tag.
- After a few days, the tag will begin to shrink and shrivel and will eventually fall off.
Surgery by a Veterinarian
For skin tags that are very large, or if you are not confident that you can do the removal by yourself, surgeries done by your vet may be the best option. Make an appointment and ask about removing the growth. The procedure is usually painless, as veterinarians normally administer anesthesia during surgery. Listen well to the veterinarian’s post-surgery instructions to help your dog recover as quickly as possible.
What to Avoid
Skin tags are not dangerous and need only be removed when causing discomfort. Simply ignoring them will not put your dog at risk. In order to avoid causing your dog any unnecessary discomfort, avoid these methods:
- Applying apple cider vinegar Some people suggest applying apple cider vinegar to skin tags. While apple cider vinegar may be an effective method to remove warts, a skin tag is not a wart and therefore, ACV will be useless for removal.
- Using liquid nitrogen This is another method commonly used on warts removal. Liquid nitrogen might injure your dog's skin.
- Burning off the tags Applying heat and/or fire to these skin growths won't do any good and may cause burning, infection, and discomfort.