First Walk is on Us!

✓ GPS tracked walks
✓ Activity reports
✓ On-demand walkers
Book FREE Walk

Jump to Section

What are Skin Tags?

Skin tags are a type of growth comprised of fibrous tissue that can appear as a single or multiple lump or bump. This connective tissue is made up of collagen proteins, and is essential in the formation of such specialized tissues as bone and cartilage, as well as provides the connective support for the various organs and systems in the body. While some skin tags are considered to be benign cancers, termed fibromas, most are deemed non-cancerous, and can be referred to by several names. These include acrochordons, fibrovascular papillomas, collagenous hamartoma, hyperplastic or hypertrophic scar, and fibroepithelial polyp.

Just like their human owners, dogs can develop small skin lumps on the surface or just under their skin. These skin tags often appear as a dog ages, and though they can be unsightly, they are quite harmless. Very often, these growths are connected to the body by a stalk-like tissue.

Book First Walk Free!

Symptoms of Skin Tags in Dogs

Skin tags grow slowly and can take a long time to be noticeable. They are located on the skin, or just under the skin, and can vary in size and appearance. While harmless, they can cause distress if they grow too large or in a location that compromises your dog’s normal daily activity, or if they become damaged, in which case they can bleed and possibly become infected. Signs your dog may have a skin tag include:

  • Stalk-like growths
  • Growths with a wart-like surface
  • Single or multiple growths
  • Growths that include hair follicles
  • Flattened plaque-like growths
  • Growths that can bleed if damaged
  • Secondary infections of growths

Types

Skin tags are often referred to as hamartomas, which are described as a nodule of redundant tissue. Two types of these are:

Fibroadnexal Hamartomas – Also called collagenous hamartomas, these are the common skin tags seen in many dogs. Often, these are hairless growths, and form near the lower limb regions and pressure points. 

Follicular Hamartomas – This is a type of fibroadnexal hamartoma, and more rare in dogs. These growths are often found in multiples, and can be characterized by flattened masses with thick hairs.

Causes of Skin Tags in Dogs

Skin tags are composed of fibrous tissues made up of collagen proteins. This fibrous tissue is a normal component of the body, and creates the supportive connections and tissues that hold the organs and body systems into place. The cells responsible for the production of the fibers that makes this connective tissue are called fibroblasts, and if these cells are overactive, this can cause an abundance of fibrous tissue, resulting in a slow-growing mass near or on the skin.  

Though skin tags can appear on any breed of dog, there seems to be an increased risk in larger breeds. Skin tags more commonly appear in dogs that are middle-aged and older.

Diagnosis of Skin Tags in Dogs

If you see a growth on your dog, it will be vitally important to determine if such a growth is a harmless skin tag, or if it is a tumor or other growth that is signaling a more serious problem, such as cancer. While it is common to see growths appear on aging dogs, monitoring certain factors can be helpful to you and your veterinarian when making a determination about your dog’s condition. Once you see a bump or lump on or under the skin, take notes on the appearance, size and location of the bump. Taking pictures with an object of a fixed size next to it, such as a coin or ruler, can help to determine growth when compared to a later picture. Never use scissors or a razor to remove any hair near the growth, but instead, use electric clippers or a beard trimmer to prevent damage to the growth. 

If you notice certain characteristics about the growth, you should not delay in seeking a medical opinion. These can include a rapidly growing lump, a dark colored growth, or a bump near your dog’s ear, nose, mouth, or mammary glands. Other symptoms concurrent with the growth can also cause alarm, such as changes in appetite, weight and energy levels, signs of discomfort and pain, or vomiting and diarrhea.

Be sure to tell your veterinarian details of all symptoms you’ve noticed, including any changes you’ve seen in the growth. Your vet will examine your dog and evaluate the lump. A fine needle aspirate may be performed to collect a sample to analyze. Usually, a biopsy is recommended to determine if the growth is benign or malignant, the examination of which can confirm a diagnosis of a skin tag.

Treatment of Skin Tags in Dogs

While some skin tags can shrink in size over time, most of them will remain unless they are surgically removed. Surgery to remove these growths is optional, as often skin tags cause no harm to your dog. However, removal can be recommended in certain cases, such as to confirm a diagnosis with a biopsy, or if the size or location of the growth is causing physical problems, pain, or secondary infections. 

Another method of removal is through cryosurgery. Nitrous oxide or liquid nitrogen is used to destroy the unwanted tissue by freezing it. The tissue then falls off or dissolves within four weeks. This procedure can be attractive for those dogs who are at an increased risk of complications due to anesthesia, as only a mild local anesthetic may be needed. The process is only temporarily painful during the freezing with no pain during recovery. Sometimes, the first treatment is not sufficient and may be repeated within two to three weeks.

Recovery of Skin Tags in Dogs

While occasionally, skin tags can shrink on their own, more often they will be a harmless addition to your dog’s skin until removed. After any type of removal, prevent your dog from licking, chewing, or scratching at the area to prevent any further damage. An Elizabethan collar can be used. Keep the area clean and monitor it for changes. Be aware that once your dog has developed a skin tag, he may be more prone to develop others.

Skin Tags Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Lucy
Teacup Yorkie
6 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

none

My yorkie has what I thought was a skin tag. It has been there for well over a year. This past month it has grown in length. She is acting fine. Should I be concerned?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Dogs do get skin tags, and benign growths, and some of them are better having removed surgically before they continue to grow. It would be best to have Lucy examined by your veterinarian to identify whether the tag is anything to worry about, and decide whether it can be monitored or should be removed. i hope that everything goes well for her.

Add a comment to Lucy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Daisy
Mixed
6 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Skin tag
pus

My dog has had a skin tag for about a week on the side of her nose. It doesnt bother her and she is fine w no issues but i have just noticed it seems like white stuff is coming out of it. What should i do?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Without examining Daisy, I'm not sure what might be going on with the skin tag, whether it is a concern, or not. It would be best to have her examined by a veterinarian so that they can look at it, determine if there is a problem, and what treatment might be best for her. I hope that all goes well for her!

Add a comment to Daisy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Ben
Black Lab
7 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

none
None that are notic

I was recently cleaning out my dogs ears when I noticed he has four little 1 centimeter growths which are pretty concealed by his fur but idk if it is cancerous and am kind of worried. He has also had a little bump on the side of his nose that went away while another one appeared. They done give him any discomfort or pain as far as I know but I would still like to know what to do about it

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Since I can't see Ben or the growths that you are noticing, it would be best to have a veterinarian look at him. They'll be able to see the growths and let you know if there is anything to worry about. Growths in the ears might present a different problem, as they can lead to infection, so having them looked at would be a good idea.

Add a comment to Ben's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Bella Elaine Lee
American Cocker Spaniel
7 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

I have not noticed any symptoms.
I have not noticed any symptoms ass

My dog is 7 years and 6 months old American Cocker Spaniel. She have a skin tag right on her bottom lip. Its getting longer but it is growing very slowly. It's been there for about 6 months. I've recently noticed tags or lumps in other areas. One under flap of ear and on between her tail and anal area.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
If the skin tag is growing and you’re noticing others, you should visit your Veterinarian to have a look at them to confirm that they are skin tags and not something else (warts etc…); your Veterinarian will also discuss treatment options with you which may include cryosurgery, surgical excision, cauterisation among other methods. I generally don’t recommend home treatments as they may be done incorrectly which may lead to complications. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

I have noticed that my 5lb mix has skin tags where they have given a shot

Add a comment to Bella Elaine Lee's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Boots
Yorkie
12 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen skin tag

My Yorkie was groomed two weeks ago and now has a skin tag that looked very sore upon which we brought to the vet and was told to apply bacatration now he has another near his neck that was bleeding The groomers use clippers not scissors What should I do ? I’m giving him a oatmeal shampoo bath today

Add a comment to Boots's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Riley
Labrador Retriever
11 Years
Mild condition
1 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Skin tag

My 11 year old British Lab has developed what are clearly skin tags (we have a vet appt just in case). He has one on top of his head which isn't bothering him...but it bothers me! Is it true that skin tags can be treated with organic cider vinegar?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. As far as I know, skin tags cannot be treated with cider vinegar. They typically can either be monitored for change, or removed surgically. I hope that all goes well for Riley.

Add a comment to Riley's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Bailey
Labrador Retriever
8 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Dog bite

Hi, a German Shepard attacked my dog but only left him with two teeth bite marks from what I can see. Should we bring him to the vet or wait and watch him? They are located on his arm.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
If the bite wounds are shallow and are not wide, you should clean the wounds regularly with a dilute antiseptic and apply an antibiotic ointment to the wounds to create a barrier against infection. If the wounds are deep, wide or both you should visit your Veterinarian for an examination and possibly flushing of the wounds along with a course of antibiotics. If there are just two small teeth marks, I would just clean the area and keep a close eye on it for the next few days. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Bailey's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Cinnamon
Lab mix
9 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

lack of appetite
Lack Of Appetite, some vomitting

We just noticed a skin tag on our lab mix. The end of it is black, but the rest of it is pink. It is about an inch long, and didn't seem to bother her when we examined it. The black at the end seems to be protruding from it, but not oozing or coming off of anything. Should we be worried? I have a pic, but don't know how to send it here.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Skin tags should always be checked by your Veterinarian especially if there are changes in colour; sometimes they are just skin tags but may be the start of something more serious. I would suggest visiting your Veterinarian for an examination to determine if it should be removed or if a wait and see approach is needed. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Cinnamon's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Luna and Willie
Coon hound
1 Year
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

none

Medication Used

none

My Coon hound is not even a year old my lab is only 2. They both are getting skin tags the get kind big but then they dry out and fall off. Should I be concerned?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Skin tags are benign growths which are usually nothing to worry about unless they grow large or start bleeding; it is unlikely that two young dogs in the same house have skin tags at the same time, it is possible that other causes like canine papillomas are a possible cause. You should visit your Veterinarian for an examination to identify the cause and to discuss possible treatment options. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Luna and Willie's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Mia
Beagle
11 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

obsessive licking

Hello. My beagle has several skin tags on her body and they’ve already been identified as harmless by her vet. There is a large one on her front paw that looks like a mini brain. Lots of small tags on top of each other. Last night a few of those turned dark red and now blackish. It looks like blood is pooling inside. What can I do at home (prick them?)? Should I take her to the vet? How urgently?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
You shouldn’t try pricking them open, but leave them and not allow Mia to lick, check or rub them; if they are not bleeding you should wait to see your Veterinarian on Monday and they may decide to remove them or freeze them off depending on size and situation. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Mia's experience

Was this experience helpful?

bruno
Miniature Schnauzer
9 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

Licking

i have a miniature schnauzer i noticed a small bump on the top of his foot thought it may have been a tick took him to the vet and was told it was a skin tag took him to the groomers after i noticed the the skin tag was not black in color its was fleshy looking at first he never bothered it until after grooming now he licks it all the time took him back to the vet because he is licking it so much vet said they may have irritated it at the groomers i made the groomers aware that i was there i even cut the hair from around it so it could be seen any sugggestion on what to so feel sad for my puppy

Add a comment to bruno's experience

Was this experience helpful?

ANGEL
MINITURE POODLE
8 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

FINE

Medication Used

none

my dog angel has a skin tag on the side of her face it a little bit bigger than LAST YEAR she also has one on the side of her lip its tiny but aggravates her and she has a tiny one on her back should i take her to see the vet i just don't like to see them on her

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
You should have the skin tags looked at by your Veterinarian and they may be relatively easy to remove especially with cryosurgery which can be done with local anaesthesia if your Veterinarian is comfortable with the procedure. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM https://wagwalking.com/treatment/cryosurgery

My dog has a large skin tag on jhis neck. Over time it started to dry out and now it has cracked and there is some bleeding which I cleaned. Is this normal for a skin tag? Do they dry out and end up cracking or falling off?

Add a comment to ANGEL's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Zeus
Yorkshire Terrier
14 Days
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

skin tags

My dog is 14 and a half years old 9 pound Yorkie he has 9 skin tags they are growing up to 5 millimeter 1 tag on his neck split and there is a discharge which becomes black and hard one time it came off when I give him a bath and the skin underneath was healed now this second one won't heal he is in good health, why why does he have so many skin tags, like one a month ?all of them are pink, some are 2mm and stalk like, some stop growing they are approximately 3 millimeter.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Some dogs seem to be more prone to skin tags than others, there is no real prevention of them forming; generally they are harmless and are self limiting. Some skin tags may be left as is whilst others may require veterinary intervention. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Zeus's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Pebbles
schnauzer
3 Years
Mild condition
0 found helpful
Mild condition

Has Symptoms

Irritation, sensitivity,

My 3 yr old female schnauzer has been acting like something bit her on the backside and she will jump up or suddenly sit down. The groomer noticed something long and black hanging from her vulva. It looks like a black maggot, but is obviously part of her skin. The vet says it's a skin tag, but it doesn't look like any tag I've ever seen. What else might it be?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It is possible that the lump is a skin tag, they may appear is different shapes, lengths and widths; it would be something to keep an eye on and can be easily removed if necessary. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Pebbles's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Buddy
Labrador Retriever
11 Years
Moderate condition
1 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Skin Lump

I have a male lab, 11yrs old. He had what were clearly 3 skin tags on his back, my female lab keeps licking the area and now there is a 2"x2" cluster of raised bumps (cauliflower looking) along with the skin tags. Any suggestions or ideas?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. If skin is chronically irritated, it can become thickened and irritated. That may be all that is going on with Buddy, but it may be possible that there is an underlying bacterial or fungal infection that is making your other dog lick the area in the first place. It would probably be best to have the area examined by a veterinarian, just to see if there is any treatment needed.

Thank you Dr. King

Add a comment to Buddy's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Princess
Australian Terrier
10 Years
Fair condition
1 found helpful
Fair condition

My dog appears to have a skin tag which is black in colour. She is not sick she has a good appetite and there is no sign of infection. Do I need to take her to see a vet ?

Dr. Michele King, DVM
Dr. Michele King, DVM
1604 Recommendations
Thank you for your email. Any change in skin should be examined, especially at dogs get older. It may just be a skin tag, but it may be a tumor that needs to be removed - a quick visit should put your mind at ease. I hope that everything goes well for her.

Add a comment to Princess's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Reta
American Pit Bull Terrier
6 Years
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

Has Symptoms

irregular shape

I just found what appears to be a skin tag on my 6 yr old American Pit Bull Terrier. It is black (like tar) in color and not round shape on her lower side near pelvic region. With it not being the same color as her skin, should this be investigated by the local vet?

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
It would be advisable to have any lump, bump or anything unusual checked and confirmed by your Veterinarian first to be on the safe side; without examining Reta I cannot say whether it is a skin tag or something more serious. Your Veterinarian my just advise you to keep an eye on it if it isn’t causing any issues, but it is best to have it checked to be on the safe side. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Reta's experience

Was this experience helpful?

Calla
Pointer mix/american bulldog
7 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Swollen skin tag

My dog has a skin tag on her front leg. The vet has confirmed this months ago. He also said it wouldn't get much bigger. It was always flat looking. Now today it looks like its ready to explode it is so swollen.

Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
3314 Recommendations
Any changes (especially sudden) in size, shape or colour should be seen by your Veterinarian immediately; without examining the mass/skin tags I cannot give much advice apart from visiting your Veterinarian for a check. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

Add a comment to Calla's experience

Was this experience helpful?