Q&A: Skin Tags On Dogs


Any unknown lumps or bumps on our pet pooch can be worrisome.

A reader sent in a question to Dr. Patrick Mahaney about some skin tags they found on their dog, saying:

I have a question regarding my 7 year old Manchester Terrier Mix. Recently i’ve discovered these little flesh colored, mole like bumps on her back, ears, and legs. She’s never had them before. They look just like skin tags. I tried tweezing them out, thinking it was a tick, but it was just her skin. She’s super friendly and in the 7 years i’ve had her has never once tried to bite me, but when i tried to remove another one she yelped and then bit me. It’s obviously painful to her and the last thing i want to do is hurt her, i was just curious as to what these skin tags were and what i should do about them.

To be more specific the bumps are not rounded or smooth, rather they stick out and look like a black head after you’ve popped it, only it’s flesh colored and hard. Kind of looks like a raised scab, and also you can flick it around. Sorry if my description of it sounds stupid, i just have no other way of describing it. I hope you guys know what i’m talking about and can give me some answers as to what these bumps could be. I love my girl and i pray it isn’t anything serious or life threathing. I hope to hear from you soon.


Dr. Patrick responded:

Thank you for your question about skin masses.

Skin masses can potentially have many underlying causes, some concerning and others. Skin masses can be cancerous (abnormal cells growing at a faster rate) or non-cancerous (such as a cyst, scar tissue, folliculitis, imbedded foreign body, etc). Cancerous skin masses may be benign (less likely to cause any significant illness) or malignant (more likely to spread and cause severe illness, even death).

Without seeing your dog in person and performing a physical exam (in the sate of CA, as that is where I am licensed), I cannot give a diagnosis or recommend treatment. Although, I can speculate based on your description of the masses in your seven year old dog. They sound most consistent with sebaceous adenoma (see Veterinary Partner).

It is best that you pursue an examination with your veterinarian. Pending their evaluation, removal of the masses and biopsy may be indicated. Especially if any are getting crusted, inflamed, infected, painful to the touch, or changing in shape/consistency. As many middle aged dogs also have underlying dental disease, perhaps her dental health can also be addressed (anesthetized teeth cleaning).

Good luck,
Patrick Mahaney VMD CVA

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Dec 1, 2011 8:00am PDT

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