Skin tags on a dog are harmless. They are benign and can occur for a variety of reasons. While there is no definite cause for skin tags on canines, some common theories include friction, age, and even genetics. Most of the time, a dog can live with one skin tag or even multiple growths with no problems. Often, neither the dog or the owner know that they have them.
There are some instances, however, in which a skin tag on a dog should be removed. Your veterinarian should be the one to make that decision. But, there are things you can look for and keep in mind to prepare yourself. One of the biggest signs of a problem is bleeding.
Skin tags should never bleed on their own. If they do, and you’re unsure of the cause, it may not be a skin tag, to begin with. These growths are often confused with other types of skin conditions. This can include everything from warts, ticks, to pre-cancerous lesions.
Unless a problem occurs with the skin tag, it shouldn’t be irritating or bothersome to your pooch. So, what can you do if it starts bleeding?
What to Do If a Skin Tag Starts to Bleed?
If a skin tag on your dog starts to bleed, you need to look for the source of the problem. Perhaps you weren’t aware they had a skin tag in the first place. Or, maybe it’s a growth they’ve had for a long time that is experiencing this sudden change.
Knowing why a skin tag is bleeding is the best place to start. Even if you can’t directly identify why it is bleeding, you should consider it somewhat of an ’emergency,’ and get your dog to a veterinarian. Obviously, dog skin tags on the eyelids that bleed are always a cause for concern.
What Causes a Skin Tag to Bleed?
There are several key differences between skin tags on dogs and skin tags on people. Reasons they tend to start bleeding, however, aren’t that different. The two main causes are a possible infection or irritation.
For a dog, irritation of the growth might be even more common. It depends on where the skin tag is located, how big it is, and if your dog notices it. Because one of the potential causes for this type of growth is friction, dogs can commonly experience them underneath their collars. If the skin tag gets bigger or continues to rub against the collar, it can cause irritation.
Your dog may try to remedy this by scratching at the growth. This scratching can cut open the skin tag and cause it to bleed. If it is a skin tag that happens to be on the elbow joint or leg, they can also nip at it and try to chew it. This can also cause bleeding.
Not only can a bleeding skin tag be painful, but it spikes your dog’s risk for infection.
An infected skin tag has several notable symptoms, including:
- Painful to your dog when they are touched
- Oozing liquid or pus
If your dog shows any of these symptoms with a cold sore, it’s necessary to get them to a vet right away. While infection on one skin tag doesn’t mean others will become infected, it can spread to other areas of the skin.
What Can I Do to Stop the Bleeding?
If you do notice a skin tag on your dog that won’t stop bleeding, apply pressure to it right away. Of course, getting them to the vet is necessary. But, your biggest immediate concern should be to stop the bleeding as quickly and effectively as possible.
Clean away as much of the blood as you can, and apply pressure using a clean rag or gauze to the affected area. Try to keep the pressure applied for at least ten minutes. It might be tempting to release the pressure and continuously look at the growth, but avoid it if possible. By keeping the solid pressure on the area for ten minutes, you have a better chance of stopping the blood flow for the time being.
Once you’re able to stop the blood, it should be easier to take your dog to the vet without having to worry about a mess or think about them being in pain. If your dog allows you to, try to place a bandage over the area to keep them from licking it or scratching it.
Does a Bleeding Skin Tag Need to Be Removed?
Depending on what causes the bleeding, your veterinarian will be able to determine whether or not the skin tag should be removed. Don’t attempt DIY dog skin tag removal under any circumstances.
If your dog scratched it, but it is still intact and doesn’t show signs of infection, it may not need to be removed. However, it may need to be covered or bandaged. It’s a good idea to have your dog wear a cone collar, too, to avoid irritating it further.
If the skin tag is bleeding due to infection, the vet will likely want to remove it as quickly as possible. There are several different ways in which a veterinarian can remove a skin tag from your dog.
The most common procedures are as follows:
- Cryosurgery (freezing off the growth)
- Ligation (tying off the growth)
- Surgical removal (cutting out the growth)
- Cauterization (burning off the growth)
Your veterinarian should be able to decide the best method for your dog’s individual needs. Most of these procedures are considered outpatient services. They take very little time, and won’t be painful for your dog. Here is some info on what vets charge to remove skin tags on dogs.
However, your dog should wear a cone collar after any of these procedures to ensure they don’t irritate the area once again. This is especially true if the skin tag was infected.
Does an Infected Skin Tag Need to Be Tested?
If your vet removes a bleeding skin tag from your dog, they will probably want to run a biopsy on it. Again, skin tags aren’t meant to bleed. If your pet accidentally scratched or bit it, there may be no real harm done. If it has become infected, however, a test on the growth is necessary for your dog’s safety.
Unfortunately, sometimes when a growth starts bleeding it can be discovered that it’s not a skin tag at all. Pre-cancerous lesions or lumps can occur on a dog’s body. They may be more likely to show signs of infection than a regular skin tag. Not only is the removal process important, but getting the growth tested can help to prevent further illness for your dog.
Different types of infections or even cancerous lumps need to be treated differently. It may be as simple as putting your dog on certain antibiotics or a topical solution. If the mass comes back as pre-cancerous or cancerous, further treatment will be needed.
How Will My Dog Recover from a Bleeding Skin Tag?
Once the vet determines what caused the bleeding, you’ll have a better idea of how to treat your dog afterward. If they just scratched at a skin tag, it may need to be bandaged for a while. Your dog may need to wear a cone to ensure they don’t irritate it again or cause the bleeding to start once more.
If the skin tag started bleeding but didn’t fall off, it doesn’t necessarily have to be removed. If there is no sign of infection, your dog can heal normally. In most cases, a veterinarian won’t advise removing a skin tag unless there is an infection or risk for other health concerns. A scratch on the growth probably won’t be enough reason for your vet to want to remove it.
Can Bleeding Be Prevented in the Future?
Just as skin tags themselves aren’t 100% preventable, it may not be preventable to keep a skin tag from bleeding. A lot of the ‘risk’ comes from the location of the growth and whether or not it could be irritating your dog.
Use these tips to determine whether or not your dog’s skin tag is something that could be more serious. If it starts bleeding, do what you can to stop it before taking your pet to the vet. If your veterinarian says that it should be removed, act accordingly.
But, if the bleeding seems to be a ‘fluke’ and your dog accidentally scratched themselves, there is no real reason to worry. This isn’t to say it won’t ever happen again. If it keeps occurring, you and your vet may need to rethink the idea of removing the growth.
Skin tags can’t be prevented, and neither can potential bleeding. However, by regularly monitoring any skin growths on your dog, you’ll be well-prepared whenever anything sudden or abnormal comes up. The better you examine these growths each day, the less likely it is for your dog to develop a severe infection that goes on for a long time without treatment.