How Can I Tell If My Dog Has a Tick or Skin Tag?

By Deborah Whistler

Dogs often develop skin tags, which are thin growths that can be floppy and resemble ticks. Ticks are parasites that will try to feed off your pet and can transmit diseases. It’s important to examine any growth on your pet to determine whether it’s a tick that needs removal to protect your pet from contracting a disease or a skin tag that can often be left alone.

Examine the growth or tick with a magnifying glass. Ticks are oval in shape and usually brown or reddish in color and will be attached to the dog by the head. They become larger and grayish in color as they engorge from feeding on a dog’s blood. You can identify ticks because they will have tiny legs on the sides near the head. Skin tags are generally the same color as the dog’s skin and are usually flat.

Check between toes and behind ears. Ticks often hide behind a dog’s ears and between his toes.

Remove the tick. Do not pull on the body of the tick. Use fine-tipped tweezers and grasp the tick at the head and pull straight out. Do not twist the tick or it could cause the head to break off in the dog’s skin.

Kill the tick. Place the tick in a cup of rubbing alcohol or crush it. Ticks can be difficult to kill and will not die if flushed down the toilet.

Treat the area where the tick was removed. Dip a cotton ball in hydrogen peroxide and apply it to the affected area. Apply antibiotic ointment once the wound is clean.

Check skin tags regularly. If a skin tag becomes irritated or damaged, take your dog to a veterinarian to have it removed. Skin tags around the mouth often become cancerous and should be regularly monitored to see if they have changed in size, shape or color.