There are varying opinions on whether or not you should perform DIY dog skin tag removal at home. Ultimately, this is your decision. It’s important to note that while some home remedies can be effective, it can sometimes be risky to remove a skin tag on a pet by yourself.
Without the proper tools and environment, you could be putting them at risk for potential infection. If something is done incorrectly, it may also cause discomfort or pain to your dog if it’s a sensitive area, like the eyelids. If a skin tag is infected, this needs to be allowed to heal prior to the use of any treatment.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that every skin tag can be different. If you decide to get rid of a skin tag on a dog at home, you have to make sure it is a skin tag and not another type of growth. For example, trying to remove a cancerous or pre-cancerous growth can create big problems. It may even prevent your dog’s vet from discovering cancer at a later date.
You know your dog better than anyone and likely know if they’re sufficiently healthy. You may have a better idea of how they will react to certain removal methods than others. Although vet’s charge more for skin tag removal, it’s always a good idea to get your vet’s opinion before trying anything for yourself!
DIY Dog Skin Tag Removal at Home
If you do decide you want to proceed, there are some home remedies to consider:
Tying Off a Skin Tag
One of the most popular methods used by vets is ligation. If you have a trusting, calm dog, you can try this method at home. It doesn’t require any cutting. It is probably the lowest-risk solution for getting rid of a skin tag on your dog safely at home.
To make things easier on yourself and your dog, you should only try this method on skin tags that are longer or have a visible stalk. This will make it easier to tie them off properly without causing your pooch any pain.
You’ll need the following supplies on hand:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Dental floss (or fishing line)
- A clean/sterile razor
Another ‘supply’ you’ll probably need is a second person. If your dog has a second owner, this is a good time to bring them in. Ideally, it should be someone your dog is comfortable around and vice versa. This partner will be an asset in holding the dog down and comforting them throughout the process. The calmer the dog is, the easier the tying off process will be.
From there, complete the following steps:
- Carefully remove the hair in the area of the skin tag. If you can safely separate the hair without having to shave it, this is a safer option. If you do have to shave a patch of hair, be sure to keep your dog still during the process.
- Disinfect the area before you do anything else. Once you’re able to see the skin tag, apply a bit of rubbing alcohol to the tag itself and the surrounding skin.
- When you have a clear view of the skin tag, take your piece of dental floss or fishing line, and tie it directly around the stalk. It’s important to get it as close to the base of the skin tag as possible. You want to tie it around the skin tag itself and not any areas of surrounding skin. This will prevent your dog from being in any pain.
- Once the skin tag has been tied, cut off any excess ends of the floss or fishing line.
- Repeat this process with other visible skin tags.
In 3-4 days, you should start to notice the skin tag shriveling. It should fall off on its own after 7 -14 days. Monitor the skin tag(s) closely during this time to make sure they aren’t getting infected or irritating your dog in any way. In some cases, you may need to use a cone collar to prevent your pet from scratching or biting at the area.
Using mayo scissors to cut your dog’s skin tag away is a possibility. It’s a bit more invasive than tying off the tag. You should always get clearance from your veterinarian before performing a procedure like this at home.
It’s a popular home remedy, but it can also be a dangerous one if done incorrectly. Mayo scissors are special curved scissors that make it easier to make safe cuts.
Other supplies needed for this remedy include:
- Rubbing alcohol
- Cotton balls
- A clean bowl
- Soldering iron
- A clean and sterile razor
This might look like a complicated list. However, once you get the hang of the procedure, it’s fairly simple. The most important thing to keep in mind is your dog’s safety and well-being.
Once you’ve collected your tools and supplies, carefully follow these steps:
- Shave the affected area if necessary. In this case, shaving will make it easier to get a clear view of the skin tag and not accidentally cut another area of your dog’s skin. Even if you can see the growth by just pushing a bit of fur away, shaving the fur will give you a cleaner, clearer area.
- Apply a liberal amount of rubbing alcohol to the skin tag and surrounding skin with a cotton ball to sterilize the area.
- Disinfect the Mayo scissors using a bowl of water and iodine before using them.
- Once everything is sterilized, cut the base of the skin tag. Be careful not to cut the underlying skin or any of the surrounding area.
- Immediately use the soldering iron or soldering pen to cauterize the area. This will help to prevent bleeding and close the wound right away.
- Use a bandage or gauze to cover the area safely. Change out the bandage daily until completely healed.
Again, your dog may be required to wear a cone collar following this treatment. There are positives and negatives to this home remedy. The biggest benefit is that the skin tag will be instantly gone. You don’t have to wait for it to fall off as you would by tying it off.
Things That MUST Be Avoided with At-Home Treatments
If you self-treat a dog’s skin tag(s) at home, there are things you should avoid.
To save your pet from unnecessary discomfort, avoid the following:
- Liquid nitrogen – When your veterinarian gets rid of a skin tag using cryosurgery, they’ll usually use liquid nitrogen. Under the right conditions and with proper medical supervision, it’s a safe and painless method. However, liquid nitrogen has become more readily available for home purchasing over the years. Any misuse could lead to injuring your dog’s skin, as well as other complications.
- Burning off skin tags – You should never try to burn off a skin tag. It’s a medical procedure that can be done on humans but is rarely performed on animals. It should never be performed at home. Using any cautery treatment to get rid of a skin tag on a pet is extremely dangerous. It could lead to burning, and cause infection. It could also be extremely painful and even traumatic for your pooch.
- Using unsterilized equipment – Skin tags can’t be removed with scissors or other equipment that has just been laying around your house. Using any unsterilized tool can lead to serious infection for your pet.
- A dog with a health condition – If there is even the slightest suspicion that your dog might be ill or have an underlying health condition, don’t try to remove their skin tags. It’s best to get them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet will be able to treat the condition and determine whether the skin tag(s) can be removed safely.
Important: Another thing you may want to avoid, even if you do use a vet to remove skin tags, is the use of anesthesia on older dogs. Age may play a factor in skin growths. Older canines tend to be more prone to skin tags than puppies. However, they may not respond to general or localized anesthesia as well. It can be very risky. If the growths are normal and don’t seem to be bothering the dog, it’s best to leave them be.
What to Do When a Skin Tag Keeps Bleeding
A skin growth of any kind that keeps bleeding can be a frightening experience for you as a pet owner. Bleeding is a dangerous factor for skin tags because it can open your dog up to infection. Additionally, it can be a sign that something else is wrong.
A bleeding skin tag could be another type of growth altogether. It could even be a pre-cancerous lesion. Or, it could be something as simple as a skin tag that became irritated by your dog scratching or biting at it.
The most important thing to do immediately is to stop the bleeding. The longer the growth is free to bleed, the more susceptible it is to infection. It may also be causing your dog some pain and discomfort. This is not the time to cauterize the skin or attempt to cut the skin tag off.
Instead, apply pressure directly to the area for ten minutes with a clean cloth. It may be tempting to continue to look at the area to see if the bleeding has stopped. But, just keep the pressure on it for ten minutes straight. If the bleeding still hasn’t stopped after ten minutes, your dog may not be clotting normally. Call your vet immediately, as they may need to be taken in for an emergency visit.
If the bleeding does stop within ten minutes, it’s still a good idea to contact the veterinarian. While it may not be an emergency, they may want to see your dog in the next day or so to ensure there is no possibility of infection.
If you’ve decided that home remedies for skin tags on dogs are not for you, here is some info on how vets remove dog skin tags.