Regular skin checks are advised to stay on top of any growths or parasites that may appear on your dog. One of the common growths you may come across is a skin tag. It’s important to know about skin tags, as they can regularly appear on your dog and having a better understanding of what they are can put your mind at ease.


Black Skin Tag on Dog

Skin Tag on Dog’s Ear


What Are Skin Tags On Dogs

The appearance of skin tags may be scary or unattractive, but they are nothing more than little sacks of collagen and fat. They are harmless but do have the ability to grow. Skin tags will usually grow in areas that are frequently rubbed or chafed such as the chest, armpits, neck or anus.  However, they can appear anywhere on your dog’s body.

A skin tag will usually be the same color as your dog’s skin or a bit darker. Skin tags characteristically hang from the skin by fleshy tissue. They feel soft to the touch and move around if you wiggle it with your finger. Darker skin tags can look a bit like a tick, so take a close look to check for a head and legs before leaving it.

What Causes Skin Tags On Dogs

There are a number of causes that have been determined by veterinarians and researchers:

Friction – We can tell by where skin tags occur that friction plays a major role in their presentation. Found in areas where skin often rubs against itself or a collar, suggests that rubbing, scratching, and chaffing of the skin leads to skin tags.

Age – Skin tags can appear at any age, but the older your dog gets, the more you may notice skin tag tags appearing.

Parasites – When your dog’s skin gets irritated from external parasites like fleas and ticks it can lead to skin tags if the skin doesn’t heal properly and return to a healthy state.

Genetics – Some dogs just have a genetic predisposition to skin tags and can develop many over their life. Thankfully, dogs aren’t vain and usually aren’t too bothered by the appearance of more skin tags.

Hygiene Habits and diet – If your dog has skin tags, it is not necessarily a sign of poor hygiene, but rather a possible overzealousness in their bath routine. Dogs, depending on their breed and lifestyle, should only be bathed around once a month. Using the wrong shampoo or constantly washing your dog can cause damage to their hair follicles, cause skin irritation and run a risk of bacterial or fungal infections. When your dog’s skin is not at its healthiest, it is more susceptible to skin tag growth. The right diet for your dog also helps keep their skin healthy.

Treating Skin Tags On Dogs

Due to their harmless nature, there is no rush to remove most skin tags. If you see a skin tag on your dog, it is worth mentioning to your vet at your next visit. As humans, we like to self-diagnose ourselves, but it does get a little trickier with pets when they can’t tell you all the symptoms like if something is hurting or irritating them. Skin tags are painless and shouldn’t cause your dog any discomfort but they can sometimes grow in an area that may be annoying for your dog like hanging over the eye or around their mouth. If the skin tag is located in an area where it might get easily scratched, your vet may recommend removing it to avoid any chances of infection from being scratched at.

Your vet can correctly diagnose your dog’s skin tag and recommend the best course of action. Some vets will advise just to leave it if it is not bothering your dog, others may suggest waiting until their next teeth cleaning and just snip it off while they are under anesthesia, while some vets choose to biopsy each and every growth.

The main method of removal for skin tags on dogs would be surgical excision. Depending on the size and location of the skin tag and your dog’s temperament, your vet may be able to snip it right off in their consulting rooms. Often though, they will prefer to anesthetize a dog and remove it surgically in order to cause the least pain and reduce the risk of infection. This is usually why a vet will recommend leaving a skin tag unless the growth is bothersome or suspicious.


Written by Rachel Rosenstein, who, after developing skin tags during her pregnancy, researches and writes about skin tags at




Filed under: Dog Care

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