How to Get Rid of a Skin Tag on a Dog’s Eyelid

Skin tag on dog's eyelid
A skin tag protruding from a dog's lower eyelid towards the corner. Source: Barks & Bunnies

Skin tags, or acrochordons as vets may call them, are simply excess skin growths and can appear anywhere on your furry friend’s body. You may be worried when you first discover one. But you’ll be happy to know that skin tags are 100% harmless.

However, skin tags can often be confused or mistaken for something benign when, in fact, it could be a cancerous growth or cyst. Skin tags on eyelids while relatively common should always be looked at by your dog’s trusted veterinarian. Removal methods usually include cauterization, cryosurgery, ligation and surgical excision.

If you want to learn a little more about these random “beauty marks”, you’ll find a wealth of information in this article as we explore why skin tags develop and what your options are for removal.

Why is my dog getting skin tags?

Some dogs may be predisposed to develop skin tags. For example, some breeds of spaniels and terriers are more likely to have or gain skin tags than other breeds, especially as they age.

Other than being more susceptible to skin tags, there are many ways these skin abnormalities can occur in dogs.

1. Friction

Perhaps the most obvious cause for skin tags is the recurrence of friction. This can be the result of a variety of stimulants. Maybe your dog’s collar or harness fits a little too loose, and so every time they gear up for a walk or hike, the fabric rubs against them causing friction.

Not only is this uncomfortable for them, but it can also cause skin irritants, such as friction burn, loss of hair, and skin tags.

2. Frequent bathing

While cuddling with a freshly groomed puppy or doggo feels and smells heavenly, trips to the groomer or bathtub should be relatively limited for dogs.

Canines have evolved to produce their own oils that keep their skin and coat healthy, hydrated, and protected from harsh weather and irritants. Frequent bathing can strip your dog of these protective oils, putting them at risk of developing not only skin tags but other issues associated with dry, dehydrated skin.

3. Age

Skin tags are most common in senior dogs. While puppies could grow skin tags, it’s not common, so any new growths should be examined by a veterinarian immediately to rule out other health hazards.

4. Parasites

Mites, lice, fleas, oh my! Every pet-owner dreads the day they find an unwelcome guest in their pet’s coat. If your pet has recently rid of any parasites, then skin tags could be possible as a result of improper healing over former bites or scabs.

5. Lacking diet

A healthy immune system is key to a healthy, happy pet. A lot of canine immune health is determined by their diet which is why the easiest and most efficient way to promote prevent skin tags. Skin growths on eyelids or around the eyes are typically a direct response from a poor immune system.

That’s why a slight diet change or improvement is recommended for skin tags on a dog’s eyelid. While healthy food groups won’t remove a skin tag, they will help prevent more from occurring.

Some suggested ingredients that combine wonderfully together include:

  • Pumpkin puree
  • Sweet potatoes steamed or pureed
  • Dark greens (kale, spinach)
  • Lightly seasoned meat (a pinch of salt is fine, but avoid pepper as it can upset the stomach)

Additionally, coconut oil is just as wonderful for your dog’s skin as it is for yours. And you don’t necessarily have to rub the oily mess directly on them. Dogs can actually eat it.

Try cooking chicken or ground turkey in coconut oil and a little parsley (for flavor) and feeding it to your dog as treats or as a dinner substitute. Note: You never want to completely change your pup’s diet all at once as this could cause serious digestive issues to occur as well as stress them out.

Instead, choose to replace one meal a day from kibble to a warm, wet one (steamed sweet potato, steamed kale, topped with crumbly bacon, yum!). If you want to remove kibble altogether from the diet, consult with your veterinarian first.

If a diet change seems like too much, you can always consider canine vitamins. Look into vitamins that promote a healthy coat and hydrated skin for your pooch. Not only will their coat stay soft and shiny, but their immune system will be boosted, thus preventing further skin tags from developing!

What to do if the skin tag is bleeding?

Skin tags may bleed because of being torn or ripped. Although they typically don’t protrude far enough to get routinely caught on things, they can be scraped open as a result of a rough playtime or a snag on a collar, for instance. Any bleeding means that the skin tag has opened which puts your pet at risk of developing an infection.

The first thing you should do is attempt to stop the bleeding as well as dress and cover the wound.

Place a clean rag or paper towel over the open skin tag and apply mild pressure. Have a friend or family member help you keep the dog still and calm while you do so. Calm, soothing tones and petting work better than forcibly holding the dog down, which could frighten them more than is necessary.

Once the bleeding has stopped, apply a small amount of Neosporin to the open wound and then cover with a bandage. Routinely check on the open skin tag, ensuring it’s not still bleeding and is healing properly

If at any time, the area becomes swollen or emits a foul-odor or yellow liquid, visit the vet to talk with them about how to treat infections.

If the bleeding doesn’t stop after 7-10 minutes, call your veterinarian immediately as something more severe than a skin tag could be occurring.

Can you remove skin tags at home?

It’s important to note that skin tags on the eyelid, while potentially uncomfortable for your dog, are not harmful to them. While removal is possible, it’s not necessary and would be done based on your preference alone.

Skin tags in other regions, such as the snout or mouth, while initially harmless, can be a catalyst for issues and veterinarians may recommend removal in that case. However, this is not the case for skin tags found on an eyelid.

Particularly, since the skin tag is in a highly sensitive area (around the eye), at-home removal is not recommended. Not only will it be unlikely that your dog would sit still for the procedure, but even with a cooperative canine patient, you could cause an infection and worsen the situation. Infections around the eyes can spread to the eye itself and could potentially cause partial blindness.

How to get rid of skin tags on a dog’s eyelid

Removal is not always necessary. Sometimes, however, skin tags are in places that cause discomfort to a dog. Dogs in discomfort are likely to itch, bite, or rub at the area which can cause inflammation and infection. In these cases, removal is likely the best option.

Cryosurgery

Cryosurgery is often the top choice for pet-owners when researching skin tag or wart removal for their dogs. This process is simple, fast, and relatively inexpensive. A non-invasive procedure means the dog’s parents won’t have to pay extra for over-night stays or the administering of anesthesia.

If you’ve ever used freeze off on a wart or mole, then you’re familiar with how cryosurgery works: The veterinarian will utilize liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin and within a week or so the skin tag will fall off.

Cauterization

Like cryosurgery, cauterization utilizes extreme temperature to remove skin tags. However, instead of freezing and waiting for the tag to fall off, cauterization burns the tag right off then and there.

A scab will be the only thing left behind after cauterization. Anesthesia or a local anesthetic, applied only to the eyelid, is often necessary for cauterization.

Ligation

Some may opt for this procedure. It’s just as efficient as other processes but may not require anesthesia. Ligation is when a veterinarian ties off the skin tag.

Much like with cryosurgery, this effectively cuts of circulation to the tag, leaving it to shrivel, die, and fall off on its own. It can be a mildly painful process and if your dog is naturally anxious or way of the vet, anesthesia will be necessary to perform a successful ligation.

Surgical excision

This may be the preferred method for veterinarians dealing with large skin tags. Dogs will need anesthesia for this procedure and healing time will typically last longer than any of the other procedures listed.

The excision can be performed with medical scissors, a blade, or even a laser (which reduces bleeding but can be more expensive).

Home remedies for skin tags in dogs

There are a few home remedies for unwanted, harmless skin tags and warts. However, many of them call for acidic liquids (such as apple cider vinegar and/or tea tree oil), which would cause major discomfort in your dog were it to get into their eye. Since the skin tag you’re treating it on their eyelid, it’s likely the liquids could sting this sensitive area.

If you have a low-energy dog, there is one home remedy that may work for you. It’s the process of tying off the skin tag. All that’s needed is a thin thread, sewing thread would work well.

Note: This will be an uncomfortable experience for your pet as it involves tying the tread around the skin tag tightly. This cuts off blood flow to the area and eventually the skin tag will fall off, but not before your dog has to walk around with a thread protruding from their eyelid.

FAQ

1.0. Are skin tags a sign of cancer in dogs?

Skin tags are referred to as acrochordons by veterinarians and medical professionals. Typically, these soft, loose skin growths are harmless and occur both in humans and canines. Sometimes, however, they can be related to cancerous growths, which is why they should always be checked out by a vet to ensure your dog isn’t suffering any discomfort or in danger of cancer.

1.1 How much does it cost to remove skin tags at the vet’s?

Not including the initial consultation of the vet visit ($30-$60), the removal of skin tags can be expensive. Any method that you or your vet choose (cauterization, ligation, cryosurgery, or surgical excision) will require the purchase of post-treatment items, such as an Elizabethan collar to prevent your dog from itching or rubbing the healing area.

If the vet does recommend a healing collar, opt to purchase one yourself. Online and at pet supply stores they can be around $10 to $20, but more expensive if purchased through the vet’s office.

The cheapest options are ligation, cryosurgery, and cauterization. Each costing anywhere from $100 to $200. Surgical excision can cost as little as $500 to as much as $1,000 depending on the dog’s level of stress (which will determine the amount of anesthesia administered), operative and post-operative complications.

1.2. Can ticks look like skin tags?

Parasites like to make unwelcome homes in the fur and on the skin of our pets. Ticks don’t typically look like skin tags, especially upon closer inspection.

You can easily tell a tick from a skin tag, because they will typically be a reddish-brown color and have a hard surface, whereas skin tags will be a flesh-toned color, flabby and soft.

1.3. Will the skin tag fall off on its own if I leave it?

Skin tags will not go away on their own. The only instance of them falling off on their own would be after they’ve been frozen off (cryosurgery) or tied off (ligation).

  1. List of Sources:
    https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/fibrous-tumors-benign-and-hamartomas
  2. https://www.vetinfo.com/skin-tags-on-dogs-eyes.html
  3. https://www.healthline.com/health/skin-tag-removal#home-remedies
  4. https://www.howmuchisit.org/dog-skin-tag-removal-cost/
Dr. Winnie
About Dr. Winnie 336 Articles
My name is Dr. Winnie. I earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Duke University, a Masters of Science in Biology from St Georges University, and graduated from the University of Pretoria Veterinary School in South Africa. I have been an animal lover and owners all my life having owned a Rottweiler named Duke, a Pekingese named Athena and now a Bull Mastiff named George, also known as big G! I'm also an amateur equestrian and love working with horses. I'm a full-time Veterinarian in South Africa specializing in internal medicine for large breed dogs. I enjoy spending time with my husband, 2 kids and Big G in my free time.