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Understanding Skin Tags in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Understanding Skin Tags in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Understanding Skin Tags in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Many dog owners worry about skin tags. Though harmless, they may suggest a serious health concern. This blog post will explain dog skin tag causes, symptoms, and treatments to assist you care for your pet.

What are Skin Tags?

Skin tags, medically known as acrochordons or fibroepithelial polyps, are benign growths that appear on the skin’s surface. They typically consist of fibrous tissue and vary in size and shape. These growths often hang from a narrow stalk-like structure called a peduncle.

Causes of Skin Tags in Dogs

The exact cause of skin tags is not fully understood. However, several factors contribute to their development in dogs:


Some breeds are more prone to developing skin tags due to genetic predisposition. Breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Dachshunds, Bichon Frises, and Pugs have a higher tendency for developing these growths.


Areas where there is constant rubbing or friction can lead to the formation of skin tags in dogs. Common areas include the neck folds, underarms, groin area, eyelids, and tail base.


As dogs age, their likelihood of developing skin tags increases. It is not uncommon for older dogs to develop multiple skin tags throughout their lifetime.

Hormonal Imbalances:

Hormonal imbalances caused by conditions like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease can trigger the growth of skin tags in dogs.

Understanding Skin Tags in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Identifying Skin Tags on Your Dog

Identifying skin tags on your dog requires careful observation. Keep an eye out for the following signs:

Small, fleshy growths:

Skin tags are generally small and fleshy in appearance which can vary in size from a few millimeters to several centimeters.

Peduncle or stalk-like structure:

Most skin tags will have a narrow stalk-like structure called a peduncle, which attaches the tag to the skin’s surface.


Unlike other skin conditions, skin tags in dogs are usually painless unless they get irritated or inflamed due to rubbing or scratching.

When to Seek Veterinary Care

While most skin tags are harmless, it is essential to seek veterinary care if you notice any of the following:

Rapid growth:

If a skin tag grows rapidly over a short period or changes in appearance, it may be an indication of something more serious, such as a tumor.

Bleeding or ulceration:

Skin tags that bleed or become ulcerated require immediate attention from a veterinarian. These signs could suggest infection or trauma.

Behavioral changes:

If your dog starts showing signs of discomfort, excessive scratching, or behavioral changes around the area of the skin tag, consult with your veterinarian promptly.

Understanding Skin Tags in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Treatment Options for Skin Tags

In most cases, treatment for skin tags is not necessary unless they cause discomfort to your dog or present cosmetic concerns. However, here are some common treatment options available:

Surgical Removal:

For larger or bothersome skin tags, surgical removal may be recommended. This procedure is typically performed under anesthesia by a veterinarian and involves cutting off the tag at its base.


Cryosurgery involves freezing the skin tag with liquid nitrogen. The extreme cold destroys the cells within the tag and causes it to fall off gradually. This procedure is relatively quick and minimally invasive.


Ligation involves tying off the blood supply to the skin tag, causing it to wither and fall off over time. This method is typically used for smaller tags.

Laser Therapy:

Laser therapy uses focused light energy to vaporize the skin tag. This procedure is precise and minimally invasive, resulting in minimal scarring.

Preventive Measures

While it may not be possible to prevent all skin tags in dogs, you can take some measures to reduce their occurrence:

Regular grooming:

Regularly groom your dog to keep their skin clean and minimize friction in areas prone to skin tags.

Weight management:

Maintaining a healthy weight for your dog can help reduce the risk of skin tags forming due to friction between folds of loose skin.

Hormonal balance:

Work closely with your veterinarian to ensure your dog’s hormonal levels are balanced, especially if they have conditions like hypothyroidism or Cushing’s disease.

Understanding Skin Tags in Dogs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

Monitoring Your Dog’s Skin Tags

If your dog has existing skin tags or is prone to developing them, it is crucial to monitor their growth and appearance regularly:

Check for changes:

Keep an eye on any changes in size, color, or texture of existing skin tags. Rapid growth or other alterations may require veterinary attention.

Prevent irritation:

Prevent your dog from scratching or rubbing against surfaces that could irritate the skin tags. Use protective clothing or barriers when necessary.

When Skin Tags Should Raise Concern

While most skin tags in dogs are harmless, there are instances where they should raise concern:

Multiple growths:

If your dog develops numerous new skin tags within a short period, it may warrant further investigation by a veterinarian.

Atypical appearance:

Skin tags that have irregular borders, abnormal colors, excessive bleeding, or ulceration should be examined by a veterinarian promptly.


Dog skin tags are usually harmless. Even though most skin tags are harmless, they should be monitored for changes or irritation. Ask your vet about your dog's skin tags if you're concerned.

Explore our blog for essential pet health articles covering preventive care, common health issues, nutrition, and overall well-being. Stay informed and empowered to make the best decisions for your pet's health.

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